Due to the implementation of social distancing, a local McDonald’s posted a sign in the drive-thru that said, “A smile is a hug from six feet away.” This was clever until smiles were stolen.
The power of a smile
No one would argue that smiles have tremendous power. They benefit the smiler and those fortunate enough to be the recipients. Talking about smiling often makes me want to smile…until now. Because this simple yet immeasurably powerful act of kindness has been stolen, and that makes me want to frown.
In his Psychology Today article, “There’s Magic in your Smile,” Ronald Riggio Ph.D. wrote, “Each time you smile at a person, their brain coaxes them to return the favor. You are creating a symbiotic relationship that allows both of you to release feel-good chemicals in your brain, activate reward centers, make you both more attractive, and increase the chances of you both living longer, healthier lives.”[i]
A Huffington Post article stated, “When you smile, you are sending a message to those around you that you are accepted, you are welcome, all is well.”[ii]
Meg Selig wrote, “If you like to help others and lift the spirits of everyone you see, just smile.”[iii]
And of course, it would be a travesty to discuss smiling without quoting the song lyrics of the great psychologist, Frank Sinatra, “When you’re smiling, when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you.”
The stolen ministry
My wife has a million-dollar smile. She’s always said that a person may not be gifted in a lot of ways or have a lot to give, but everyone can smile. I’ve seen her smile at people in various places, people who honestly look like they have no joy at all, and seeing her smile lights up their day. They respond with the most genuine smiles. Smiles that speak volumes. Smiles that speak of joy, appreciation, hope, lifted spirits, and a myriad of other emotions. Carrie has always believed in giving free smiles to everyone, even those who don’t want them, and when she does, it’s almost always reciprocated. Unfortunately, this powerful ministry has been stolen.
We have been told that wearing a mask is for the sake of “public health.” I won’t go into the research that has been done showing that masks are completely useless. You can find that in one of my previous articles, “Face Masks: The New Tin Foil Hats.” The truth is, we are asked to wear masks because our politicians are on a power trip, and everyone else wants to validate the irrational fears of those who have become victims of media and political fearmongering. If we were truly concerned about public health we would remove the masks and smile, because a smile does more for public health than a mask.
We can not even use this God-given gift at church. The simple ministry of smiling—a ministry in which every church member can participate—has been taken away so we can “respect others.” Until now, I have never known the church to play into irrational fears but rather help free people from those fears. The church should be the one place we can still find a smile and still be able to maintain that ministry.
Taking back the smile
History will mock this year and all the health “experts” who made a mountain out of a molehill. I have a lot of reasons for not wearing a mask, but perhaps my strongest reason is that I refuse to have my smile stolen. This is not a “preference” for me; it is a conviction. How many people will fall deeper into despair and depression (deeper than they’ve already fallen) because they can find no place that gives them a smile. God forbid! The real crime is not going mask-free; it’s the stealing of smiles. I refuse to participate in such a criminal act, and you should too!