Smiles are often associated with positive outlooks and dispositions. Just check out the numerous quotations and sayings on smiles and you will see that the encouragement is to all to always wear a smile 🙂
When we meet someone, we automatically ask, ” How are you?” They quickly reply, with a smile of course, “Fine, thank you!” But what really goes on behind that smile? Is there something more that the person is going through? Could that smile be merely a facade of strength? I’ve come to realise that a smile may not be what it seems. Instead of revealing a spirit of joy and peace, it is often the opposite, concealing hurt, pain, sorrow and anxiety.
Behind that smile … a father’s heart is deeply broken by a prodigal son. He is concerned with the decisions his son has taken in haste, without much thought, without any regard to the consequences. The father’s hope and dreams for one who would bring him pride and joy, dashed for the moment. All these hidden from public view – behind a smile.
Behind that smile … a man weeps at the prospect of losing his wife to another man. His manly pride devastated at the discovery of an adulterous relationship, right under his nose. His desperate attempts to woo her back are repeatedly spurned by the one who once clung to him for love and support. What will he tell the children? Has he failed as a husband and a father? What else is there to do but pray? How can he face each day, but smile?
Behind that smile … a woman hides the pain of miscarriage, that all is well. Yet, deep inside, the sense of loss is very real. It’s not merely emotional or hormonal. There was a life and there is none now. The excitement, expectation and elation that is no more. Few can understand, not even her husband. Can she share with others? Should she share in the first place? Maybe it’s better to go through this alone, with a smile.
Behind that smile … a woman worries for her family’s survival. Her husband is out of a job and trying his best to earn his keep. She doesn’t know if their finances can last beyond the week. Her children are not aware of the situation and asks for things that children ask for. Her gentle “no” is challenged by an innocent “why?” So as not to give her man added pressure, she puts on a brave front, and smiles.
Behind that smile … a young lady wrestles with emotions for a man who pays her no attention. She waits but he never calls. She tells herself, “it’s ok, the right one will come along … soon.” As if her own questions are not enough, others ask insensitively, “you still not married?” What can she say? How should she answer? Just a plain “no, not yet”, accompanied by the sweetest of smiles.
So you see, a smile may look nice but it may not tell the full story. For many, it is largely cosmetic, hiding a much deeper issue. And yet, because we are all so busy these days, we just don’t have the time to get behind that smile! In fact, we may even be fearful to discover what really lies behind that smile, requiring us to give more time to this person. No, thank you! A smile is just fine!
But if we would be willing to scratch a little of that surface, we will discover that there is just so much pain in this fallen world. When that thin veneer of a smile comes off, we see people who need a listening ear, a compassionate heart, a shoulder to cry on, a directing of their souls back to Jesus. All it takes is sincerity to ask how this person truly is … “How are you, really?” You’ll be surprised how quickly the smile fades, making way for tears to fall and burdens to be shared.
As happy as the world presents itself, that is just what it is – a presentation. May we be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit to discern a smile that radiates with true joy, from one that is merely a front. Then, with His love, grace and enablement, get behind that smile, restore the real person within, that a real smile would finally emerge.