Proverbs 15:13a – A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face. (MSG)
Her smile seemed to envelop her from head to toe. Whenever I saw Abby, she seemed to radiate a smile that showed in her face, her eyes, and her body language. When she stood on the church platform to give announcements, read Scripture, or pray, even her voice smiled! Because her warm, gentle smile seemed to be such a part of her being, I secretly dubbed her "The Smile".
Alas, another person might more likely be called "The Grouch", "The Complainer", "The Criticizer", "The Worrier", or some other such derogatory name. How frequently our general attitude and outlook on life is inscribed on our features and is emphasized by our overall demeanour. Our inner attitude in looking out at the world around us often colours all that we see. Our way of looking at things may, in turn, indeed shape and influence our circumstances and surroundings as much as outside factors do.
Our mental processes and self-talk can determine how we interpret outside forces. If we scurry apprehensively through life rather than confidently facing difficulties and challenges, fear and insecurity will show in our physical appearance. Worry lines carve an indelible expression on a face. Frown lines become permanently etched. A pasted-on smile fools no one.
As I was growing up, my mother emphasized to me the importance of our facial expression. She encouraged me to be aware of the expression that my face bore "in repose", as she put it; that is, when I might think that no one was watching me.
To illustrate how significantly facial expressions convey feelings and emotions, try this simple experiment. First, scrunch up your shoulders, tighten your neck muscles, and clench your fists — while wearing a silly grin. Conversely, stand straight and tall while gently swaying from side to side — with a sour scowl on your face. It's hard to do either, isn't it?
It has been said that the eyes are a window to the soul. If one looks out upon the world with fear, disdain, and distrust, the outside observer can see that inner self as revealed through the eyes.
So how can one display a calm and quiet demeanour in the midst of trouble? A heart at peace with God is the starting point. A deep and abiding inner peace changes everything, even though the world all around may still be in turmoil. Jesus said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 NIV)
Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, You have promised peace to those who put their trust in You. May we confidently place our lives in Your safekeeping, and in so doing, show the world around us the evidence of a peaceful heart — perhaps with a smile! Amen.
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