Imagine you’re walking down a sidewalk in between rush hours in your hometown. You think you are the only one out when lo and behold someone is in front of you in the distance. The gap between you two closes, and you have a mini anxiety attack because you have no idea who this person is and just dwell on the awkwardness of having to make eye contact with him or her. After what seems like an eternity, you quickly lift up your head, make rapid eye contact with the stranger—but wait! The stranger is smiling!
“How are you?” he or she says.
Shocked, you rigidly respond in a near whisper. “I’m fine, thanks.”
He or she smiles again before walking by. You stand for a moment in shock. That simple encounter was not nearly as awkward as you though it would be!
The question is, though, why is this scene so dramatic? Why is something so simple so complicated and awkward?
It’s because we have lost the art of smiling.
I have been on a lot of sidewalks lately. Campus is full of them—plus, I recently took a trip to New York City, which has the most sidewalks I have ever seen. I was raised to be polite. To make eye contact. TO SMILE. But something that I have noticed more and more is that despite my effort to be friendly, people seem to be indifferent. Even if they happen to look up and make eye contact, rarely do people smile. Why is this? I honestly don’t know. Smiling is not that hard. Even if you feel crabby or sad, smiling can brighten your day as well as someone else’s!
So, even if you are quiet or feel awkward, try smiling. Next time you pass someone on the sidewalk or a grocery store, attempt to be friendly. People will notice that you’re different and it might even lead to an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus!