I was at the grocery store last week at 7 a.m. and the strangest thing happened. Everybody and his cousin smiled and greeted me like we were old friends. Understand I am pretty friendly between 10 a.m. and 4 a.m. —but not so much at 7 a.m. When the first person I ran into offered me blessings and kindness, I offered some of my own.
The fruit and veggie stockers were purposely helpful and friendly and after I explained to the clerk why I never use the self-check lanes (that’s somebody’s job being replaced by a computer and I don’t contribute to that) she joyfully scanned for me. I also told her it was too early to figure out computers. Everywhere I went, folks were holding doors, smiling, and being super sweet.
Here’s what I knew but needed to be reminded of:
Smiles beget smiles and they’re contagious. Whenever I approached someone and smiled or said hello, even the grumpiest folks returned one. My new habit is when somebody greets me with “How are you?” I answer. Nobody’s probably expecting an answer but if I ask, I slow down and wait for the reply. If I don’t care or reallyyyyyyyyy want to know, I don’t ask. My prayer is that we will stop asking the question in a perfunctory way and only ask if we expect or want an answer.
Saying please and thank you still makes a difference. Many times it’s not what we say, but it’s how we say it that makes the message an affirmation or a spirit crusher. As children we spent time with our great Aunt Verna and Uncle Leon and whenever she’d ask him something, his reply always felt like YES, VERNA! We imitate him now in gest but I can only imagine how she must’ve felt when his replies sounded so harsh and mean.
Proverbs 15:1 reminds us that “a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh…word stirs up anger.” It’s important to remember this scripture before we speak to others and think, too, about how you’d feel if the words were spoken to you. Practice holding your peace, especially with your children, until you can speak in a softer, more loving tone. Remember to send thank you notes—no matter how small the gift or gesture.
It’s important to “see” others, especially those who are down on their luck. It’s difficult to know whether the hollow-eyed men and women on the corners and at the end of the interstate ramps are genuinely hungry or homeless, but if they’re willing to brave the elements every day to fraudulently get that dollar or two every 10th person parts with, the shame is on us, not them.
Do for them what feels right in your heart. Better yet, really do what Jesus would do, and if they’re lying about their circumstances, let that be between them and God. Keep your bottled water, snacks, and dollars handy—whatever you’ve decided to share, and be as generous as you can.
Finally, be important in the life of a child—One of my favorite inspirational authors, Simon T. Bailey, shared that when he worked for Disney, management insisted that employees connect with the children, their primary audience, at eye level. Today unfortunately many children are literally dying to connect and be connected. They’re like sparrows in a hurricane because of busy schedules, community deterioration, opioid abuse that leads to foster care, neglect, failing schools, video games, over medication, violence, poverty and hunger—and the list goes on to infinity.
The smiles and pleasantries shared last week were a gentle reminder that little things matter. Thankfully, they always have.
How do you appreciate the little things in your life? Share your insights on Twitter and Facebook at #drbondhopson.
Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. All the way from Stanton, TN (you can’t get there from here) to 50 states, six continents and everything in between, she’s wise, witty and altogether wonderful. She enthusiastically invites you to slow down, sit a spell, and share a giggle or two.