When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them. I chose the way for them and sat as their chief; I dwelt as a king among his troops; I was like one who comforts mourners.
– Job 29:24-25
NOTE: The following may sound like a male chauvinist pig in places, doing his thing, but I had a reason. And I hope you get the point.
The Scripture above is from one of Job’s discourses. The word ‘smile’ appears three times in Job (NIV). In this reference and the first in Job 9, he is talking about presenting himself in a pleasant manner to others. Sometimes you may not feel like smiling, but it will make others feel better, even when they know you are hurting. Maybe not the “Let’s kill Batman smile.”
Now to the chauvinist pig story. My wife went to a new doctor, a new endocrinologist, a few weeks ago. She needed to switch medicines, change dosages, etc. due to the changes in insurance coverage, and the primary care doctor did not want to touch those issues. Since she was a new patient, we had to get there early and then the doctor took nearly an hour with my wife, looking at old records that my wife had brought and asking a lot of questions. My wife liked her, because she was so thorough.
I say that to explain that I had a lot of time on my hands in the waiting room. My mind wandered.
There were two women acting as receptionists for the endocrine clinic (more than one doctor). They were polite, but at times forceful in a totally business kind of way. They were patient with patients that didn’t know how to fill out certain forms or had odd questions that only the doctor could answer. I could simply say that they were competent.
One lady was elderly and the other was maybe in her forties. Neither wore much or any make-up. Both were overweight, but the 40-something not much. My wife and I could lose weight, too. Not judging there. In fact, if you are going to an endocrinologist, you might have problems in that area between thyroid problems or diabetes.
I then thought of one of my wife’s last jobs as a temp. She was a receptionist / office manager for a new eye doctor who had no office staff yet. At first, my wife was it. The doctor, being a surgeon, spent most of his time in surgery or at satellite offices across the entire Pittsburgh area. As a result, it was several weeks before my wife got to meet the doctor. He had only heard her voice.
For a little background, it may have taken a long time for my wife to decide to marry me, but I was smitten immediately. What was really nice in our early dating was to call her on the phone. My wife may not have a really sexy voice, but she has that kind of voice that you just want to cuddle up next to in order to listen. Her voice isn’t spicy, it’s more milk and honey. She has a lot of expression in her voice. When she reads a story, you can picture the story unfolding.
This eye doctor heard this pleasant voice every time he called the main office, and he associated a picture with the voice in his mind. My wife was also efficient. She had his calendar set. She had the filing done. She was flexible, meeting irate patient’s wildest demands, even when they were at their worst. She passed all of the tests with excellent ratings. Yes, being part of the largest hospital system in SW Pennsylvania, she had secret patients that would call near lunch or quitting time with ridiculous demands. They weren’t patients at all; they were people who would try to get the person answering the phone to do something improper, as a test. My wife was not just efficient during these tests, her calm voice calmed down the testing person (even though they were supposed to escalate their anger / frustration). In short, she was perfect for the job. Except…
After a few weeks, the eye doctor met my wife. He walked into the room, stood in the doorway, and laughed, at first not saying a word. Obviously, he had expected someone younger and someone prettier. Within a couple of days, he’d hired a new receptionist and an office manager, after he’d gone weeks with my wife doing everything. He needed more people for his practice to grow, but he had no plans for my wife to be one of them. The new people were rude to patients and incompetent when it came to filing, adjusting schedules, etc. Yet, for the doctor’s benefit, they were young and good looking. This is an eye surgeon, with mostly elderly patients and many who are blind. Young and good-looking was clearly for the doctor’s benefit.
For an eye doctor, he was quite myopic.
I think that my wife is as beautiful today as she was when we married, but she is a little overweight. She is in her 60s (in her 50s when this happened). She eventually was given menial tasks by the doctor, anything to encourage my wife to quit. When he told her that she would have to be his travelling office person, spending one day in each of his offices with no extra pay or reimbursed travelling expenses, she had to quit. We had only one car, and three of the offices were over an hour drive from where I worked. I was okay with coming in a couple of hours early and staying over an hour late each day for her to have a nice job, but it wasn’t nice when he treated her badly. Besides, she has night blindness, and she’d do almost all her driving in the dark.
So, I looked at the two receptionists, wondering if their employer looked at the physical aspects. The older one made little attempt to look attractive, but I thought the younger one needed something to look better. Was it the hair? No. Was it the clothing? No. Her voice wasn’t milk and honey, but it wasn’t a voice that you might associate with the Muppets, either. (Think Oscar, Cookie Monster, or Grover here.)
Then I thought, ‘Maybe, if she smiled…’
At that point, the thought of trying to imagine a young lady as being attractive completely left my thought pattern. God had interrupted my thoughts.
What if WE simply smiled…
Would the ‘light of our faces’ be precious to those that we meet, as it says in the Scripture above?
I remember a video of one of the Gospels. It might have been John, but I cannot remember exactly. The Sunday school class, the Video College of Biblical Knowledge, took the two-hour video in 20-minute chunks. Thus, it took six weeks getting through the entire video. Since the last chunk was from the Garden of Gethsemane to the end of the Gospel, the people in the class had raw emotions. They didn’t want to discuss that…
Instead, I asked what they thought of this presentation of the life of Jesus, as a whole. One lady, who always had an opinion, offered an answer, “I didn’t like this particular Jesus. He laughed. He smiled too much. Doesn’t the actor realize that Jesus came to earth for a very serious reason?” She went on about how the video bordered on being sacrilegious, just because of the actor’s smile. This caused everyone else to defend the actor’s portrayal and the video as a whole.
For once, I didn’t have to talk. Instead, I thought, “You hated this guy’s smile, but how else can you show God’s love to others? You hate this guy’s smile, but you rarely offer one of your own. I have seen your smile. It is uneven, and it looks like it hurts your face.” Sorry, got carried away there.
I confess. I don’t smile enough (the legacy of unsmiling parents), but I love hearing a good joke and I love telling jokes. Job had it right, but I’ll take him one step further. Tell a joke when you may not feel that happy or that healthy, and it makes you happier. You feel better, and it lightens the mood of everyone else.
Why hide your Joy?
I do not consider the work of teaching people what heaven is like as ‘serious’ work. I am serious at the right time, but there is laughter in heaven. When we think back to our time on earth, we will think that our happiest moment on earth is nothing like (on the happiness scale) what the least happy moment is like in heaven. We will feel like we had never laughed before or even smiled before. To paraphrase Al Jolson, “You ain’t heard, seen, or felt nothin’ yet!”
Mark Lowry, of Mary Did You Know fame, has another song, Jesus Laughing. Jesus loves us, and when He looks down on us, at times Jesus is laughing.
The least we can do is smile back.
All God’s children are beautiful, if they just smiled…