A Mother’s Smile
Who was there to see the baby Jesus smile for the first time? I think it would be safe to say that it was most likely his mother Mary, as she would have been the one person with the most “face time” with her new born baby boy.
A smile is a mysterious thing. Sometimes we smile as a spontaneous reaction to a pleasant or funny thought or sight or sound. We all have certain triggers that can always bring a smile to our face. We can also smile on cue, a more conscious action, like the smile we use for the camera when we are having our picture taken. There have been many scientific studies done on the mental and physical properties of a smile. Most of them suggest that a smile is at first an instinctual thing, and then it can become more deliberate as a form of communication of our feelings. The scientific findings show that no matter if the smile is planned, or if it just catches us by surprise, there is a connection between the muscles making the smile happen, and the part of our brain that controls those movements. They have found that when we experience something that makes us want to smile, sometimes something as simple as someone else’s smile, our brain instinctually shows that emotion in our facial expressions.
They have also determined that when we “force” a smile, the same part of our brain stem that generates the physical smile sends a message to our brain that tells us on a subconscious level that we have experienced a pleasurable event that made us smile. Simply put, something happy can make us smile, and simply smiling can make us feel happy. And the studies also show that people who are happy, and therefore smile a lot, tend to live longer and healthier lives. This is a bit like trying to determine which came first, the chicken or the egg, because it is difficult to be sure if being happy causes a person to live longer, or if living a longer life makes a person smile more.
One thing is for sure: smiles are definitely contagious. When you smile at someone you will get a smile back, almost every time. It is pretty automatic. We have all been answering a smile with a smile since we were babies and our mothers first smiled at us. And who in the world could witness the innocent explosion of a baby’s smile, so full of joy they end up kicking their little feet, and not have a smile born deep in their own soul come across their face?
God sent us an eternal smile in the form of Jesus. And we now have the joy of The Lord living in our hearts, and we should be smiling back up to God with every breath we take for this wonderful gift of life He has given each of us to share. There are times in every life when it is easy to smile, we don’t even have to try. And we know that there will also be many times when we will have to force a smile through the tears, all the while trusting that God has seen us through before, and he will deliver us again.
As Christians, we should be teaching the world to smile with the good news of Christ living and breathing inside of us. We need to show those who do not yet know Je-sus that we should smile not only when the world and our circumstances make us temporarily happy, but that we should smile even in the worst of times as we remember the promise of God to one day restore us and make all things new again.
Hard times and bad circumstances cannot steal the Joy of Salvation from our hearts. I believe that when God first breathed the breath of life into our beings, He smiled down on us, and we smiled back. And when our mothers smiled as they sang to us just as Mary did to Jesus, we smiled again, and now we can share the love of God with others without ever saying a word. Our smile will say it all.
Rev. Rick Phillips
Grace UMC, Plant City