How to Love with a SMILE

How to love with a smile

photo credit: ~Pawsitive~Candie_N via photopin cc
text: Shelly Tiffin

There are literally hundreds of posts talking about “The Top Ten Reasons to Smile.” While some are more business oriented, some are more health oriented, and some are more orthodontics oriented, there is one thing they all seem to have in common.

Smiles are attractive. According to Mark Stibich, Ph.D, “We are drawn to people who smile. There is an attraction factor. We want to know a smiling person and figure out what is so good.”

So, then as Christ followers, whose joy is found in the Him and not our circumstance, where are our smiles?

I’m sure most of you are great at this. I, however, am not. I’m not an unhappy person, but I consider myself a “practicing optimist” because it’s just not part of my nature. And, I don’t want to claim the old adage “fake it till you make it” with this, but I do have to be intentional about portraying a joy-filled spirit.

Why? I want Christ to be attractive. When people come into my path, I want them to be asking what does she have that I don’t?

So, with the word smile I created an acronym. It’s a tool we can all use to show love to others throughout our days.

S.ee

Love begins with seeing others. This “Martha” often has her head buried way too far in a to-do.  In fact, as much as I hate to admit, there are times I barely hear my kids call me until the third for fourth go round and I only hear it because they call me by name.

I have to choose to notice people on purpose. It could be my husband, my kids, or my students who I need to notice, but I pray for a focus beyond my sphere of life as well. I  ask the Lord for His help to see the people that need to be seen each day.

(and be S.een)

Once we see people,  hopefully they see us. Hopefully they notice the joy in our spirit and the love in our eyes (even if we failed to see them first).

He puts a smile on my face, he is my God.

photo credit: sipazigaltumu via photopin cc
text: Shelly Tiffin

Why? Because smiling is contagious.

When we smile at another person, most smile back. I prove this true each day I walk down the halls of a junior high filled with kids who think their lives are miserable. They can be sitting on the principals bench in trouble, and if I smile, most still smile back.

M.eet

Outside of school, I know that smiles break down walls with strangers. If someone walking in my direction is smiling, something in me wants to smile back and say hello. The fear of engaging with a “stranger” is diminished.

Meeting and engaging with people is I believe the hardest step because of fear. Many of us see people daily who could use a little encouragement, but never do anything about it. Whether it’s fear of their response or lack of, or fear of not knowing what to do, or fear that it will take more time or resources than we have, or fear that we are inadequate to help, fear keeps us from taking this very critical next step of meeting people.

I.dentify

If we take the time to identify with people, to put ourselves in their shoes and empathize with them, we are opening ourselves up to not only give but also to receive.

Identifying with people means doing our best to find what we have in common. Chances are most likely that our circumstances will be different, but we’ve all experienced pain, regret, sorrow, need, loneliness, or even discouragement. It’s about those moments we’ve all been in where we could really just use a friend. We must ask the Holy Spirit to expose the part of us that will connect with this person we are trying to love on.

L.isten

At this point a conversation should be taking place. One of the best ways I know of to listen to people is to punctuate my dialogue with question marks Tweet This. It helps me to not ramble on and on about myself and reminds me that I can’t meet the need if I don’t hear the need. And I don’t mean hear in the way that figures out what I can give them and then be on my way. Listening takes time and what people often need most is to simply feel like someone cared enough to to take the time.

E.ncourage

Finally, loving with a SMILE means that before we leave we encourage. Encouragement comes in many forms. It could be asking that person if you could pray with them. It may mean purchasing something. Whatever it looks like, it also includes offering hope. And for those of us whose hope is found in Christ, that means pointing people to Him.

That’s it. Love with a SMILE. It’s a very simple concept with limitless potential Tweet This. So, as one of the pastors at our church says, “Go love on somebody!” And I will add, “With a SMILE!”

PS.  After writing this post, I prayed and asked for an opportunity to do just this. It only took two hours for a response, and I almost missed it just because I didn’t see it.

I’ll be adding this to the “Go Love on Somebody” Pinterest board. You can be a part of pinning to that board (find out about it here).

Do you have a story about how someone’s smile made your day? Can you see yourself using this? Please share it in the comments.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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  • http://gravatar.com/vaderalman Mark Allman

    Shelly,
    Most people know if you really listen to them or not. To be a good listener takes work and practice. It is worth it if you do so. People have a deep need to be heard. To just be heard is an encouragement in itself.

    • http://www.shellytiffin.com Shelly Tiffin

      Very true Mark!