"Peace begins with a smile.' - Mother Theresa
I wrote it on my mirror and pondered the quote ever since. I kept wondering where it was that I was missing the mark. Where was I not giving love? I rarely stop at Starbucks, but I felt compelled to do so today (following that inner voice). I hate sitting in the drive-thru line and often enjoy the energy I feel inside the Starbucks shops, so when I do stop, I usually go in the store. Today was no different, except there was a man sitting at the table outside right by the drive-thru; it was obvious he was enjoying life.
He was not what our society considers esthetically attractive (most would have labeled him a drifter because of his outward appearance). He was an older African American man (maybe mid 70s), with weathered and wrinkled skin, a big beard, and missing some front teeth. He had a small, frail frame, carried a big backpack and wore a straw hat. But he exuded a great sense of joy from the inside out. I smiled at him and said “good morning” as I walked by.
He stopped me and said, “My goodness, you have just filled this gray sky with brilliant sunlight with that smile!” Bashfully, I thanked him and proceeded. Then I heard him say to the man about to place his order in the drive thru line, “I have been to nine countries and met quite a few people. There are very few people who can light up the sky with just a smile.” I didn’t hear the response, because I rushed into the store feeling embarrassed and not knowing what more to say.
I then wondered if I should buy the man a cup of coffee, I had noticed he had bottle a of water, but no coffee. But then I heard my inner voice say, “No! That’s been taken care of…this is what I was talking about when I gave you that quote about love. Never be afraid to share a kind word or a smile. You never know who needs it, and you never know how it will be reciprocated. When it comes to giving unconditional love you have nothing to lose, but fear!”
As I waited in line, I began to think of the times I denied someone a kind word or smile because I was afraid of someone’s appearance, their reaction, or who knows what else. The quote made complete sense. Who cares if someone does not respond in kind to my smile or kind words? Their response is about them, not me!
I know that I am living who I love being, and I love sharing the love that God has for us. How someone else responds is not up to me, nor am I responsible for that outcome. I am being true to myself and dismantling my fear in the process.
As I got my coffee, I noticed a young woman giving the man a cup of coffee. I walked out of the Starbucks, thanking Spirit for the lesson this morning and for the lady who gave the man coffee. Then I heard the man say, “There’s that beautiful smile again! Please make sure you keep using it, our world needs it!”
I genuinely thanked him and we chit-chatted for a few seconds, and exchanged farewells which included him blessing me with “God’s traveling mercies” and I went on my way. My greatest blessing was learning that being true to me and freely giving the love that God has placed in my heart will never hurt me, if anything it will quickly break down the walls of fear I have built around myself.