just make somebody smile today

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace… – Ephesians 4:1-3

“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received”
– smile, everyone!

So this morning I have been thinking about the seriously “sucky” beginnings to 2021; you know, the year that was meant to redeem the world from everything 2020! We were all looking forward to: A) “That” election over and done; B) to seeing Covid on the way out; C) to back to in-person church; D) to the economy up and running again….

But, A) a significant percentage of the country can’t accept or get over the election; B) Covid is more virulent than ever; C) church is still stuck in virtual everything; and D) the economy still teeters on the brink of disaster.

Add to that the more personal elements of family grief over three significant losses, and the daily struggles of caring for my dad next door. Oh, and throw in a little oral surgery for good measure.

“Be completely humble and gentle”

Okay, so I am not intending to make today’s post a “downer.” Far from it. I’m simply painting a picture of the reality we are all dealing with. And, given the undeniable challenges the world faces, exactly what are we supposed to do about it?

TARGET STORY: So I have a story: Just yesterday (so we can keep this current) I went to Target to pick up my post-surgery prescriptions and do a little shopping for my parents.

I loaded up the cart, made my way to the self-checkout, then caught the attention of a cashier when my wine made the red light go on pending the perfunctory license check.

“I appreciate it,” I said. “This will pair nicely with the high-octane pain killers I just picked up at the pharmacy.”

She finished typing in her numbers and turned to deal with the next customer. Then she stopped, turned around, and said, “Thank you so much.”

I smiled and raised my eyebrows in unspoken question?

“You made me smile,” she said. “Thank you for that.”

“be patient, bearing with one another in love” 

I looked around, taking in the impatient, stony-faced people around me. Someone was growling at their children; another was speaking to the cashier in an exasperated tone; over in the full-service lane I saw someone talking on their phone, blatantly ignoring the check-out employee right in front of them; there was an air of binary, oppositional, palpable anti-social bad mood.

Life isn’t so much “love your neighbor” right now as “forget 6-feet of social distancing, get out of my way and let’s just shoot the people we disagree with.”

So I thought about the fact that I had made the cashier smile. It’s not accidental.

  • I always make eye contact with other people, smile, and greet them.
  • I try to read name-tags and use people’s names even in a quick check-out situation.
  • Wait staff are simply people earning a living – they deserve courtesy and respect.
  • If the name looks difficult I ask, “That’s a cool name, how should I pronounce it?”
  • And I always say “Thank you!”
  • When the doctor called to see how I was doing I answered his questions then said, “Doctor Addison, I appreciate the call – and most of all your obvious care. Thank you.” His response told me he was genuinely touched.

Every day, every interaction, every on-line exchange, every phone call, every person we meet presents an opportunity to leave them feeling better about the world and their place in it, or – alternatively – worse. In that moment it is entirely up to us.

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace”

This is my point today. Every moment, sacred; every interaction, potentially redemptive; every person, a beloved child of God; every day, another opportunity to make someone smile.

This is our mission – DEREK

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Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.

Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.

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