Can You Hear Me Smiling?

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.

Proverbs 17:22 NLT

I showed up for Switchboard Operator training, and the first tip she offered was a lesson I never forgot.

“I know this won’t make sense; just trust me. Smile before you answer the call.” Then, she smiled. She continued to smile until an awkward silence filled the air. “Now you smile.”

“Oh! Sorry.” I gave her a bare-toothed grin and cocked my head to one side. It was my best fake smile, until we giggled. I’ll never forget how the tension in my soul evaporated.

She continued, “When people call, they’re usually seeking help. It puts them at ease when you sound happy. The lady who trained me, gave me this same tip. And I’m here to tell you, it works.”

It did work. But only because I chose to care about the person on the other end of the call.

On my worst days, it seemed as though the most mule-headed, bitter people called in. Choosing to smile in spite of how I felt not only changed me, on many occasions, it changed the caller.

I realized something. I had power to influence others. As a follower of Christ, I wanted to be a good influence. They couldn’t see me, but I hoped they could hear me smiling.


The day my sister moved to heaven was the most tragic day of my life. I needed to be alone, and the country backroads called my name. Before heading out of town, I stopped by a local fast-food joint for a cup of coffee.

A monotone voice dripped from the intercom, “Go ahead with your order.”

“Yes, I would like a large coffee with two creams, please.”

“$2.02.”

I prompted with kindness, “Thank you.”

Silence.

I wanted to scream into the microphone, Don’t you care about the people who come through your line?! How hard is it to say, “You’re welcome,” or “Enjoy your night?!”

That Switchboard Operator’s tip resounds to this day, and that horrid drive-thru experience drove the truth of a broken spirit deep.

The last thing I felt like doing that night was smiling, and I’m not saying God expected that of me. What I do know is our world is filled to overflowing with grieving, hurting souls in need of the good medicine that only Christ provides. As believers, we get to dispense joy to those in need.


Our world is filled to overflowing with grieving, hurting souls in need of the good medicine that only Christ provides. As believers, we get to dispense joy to those in need. #hope #joy


Have you ever called a creditor to explain why you can’t make your payment and heard kindness in the voice of the representative? That’s how you hear someone smiling.

When you answer a call and hear, “Howdy friend!” That’s how you hear someone smiling.

Then there’s the call moms sometimes receive, “I messed up big time. What do I do now?”

Offer grace and hope. That’s how they hear Christ smiling.

How about when you have to call technical support and it takes two hours to get resolution? That happened to me, and I chose to be kind and encouraging to the representative on the other end of the line. Do you know what happened?

She thanked me for my patience and understanding, then she stated, “You must be a Christian.”

That’s how they hear Christ smiling.

Speak so others can hear your voice, but know they hear Christ smiling. You never know what the person on the other end of the line is going through. But God does.

Your choice of cheer may be the medicine they need; it may be the medicine you need.


12 thoughts on “Can You Hear Me Smiling?

  1. What a wonderful reminder that no matter what our day is like, we can brighten someone else’s. My adopted mama always said, “Greet everyone with a smile. You never know when you’re entertaining an Angel.” Thank you for this remindful post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, JD. Yes! Your mom imparted sweet – and wise – words. Thank you for sharing your adopted mama with us. Blessings to y’all!

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  2. Charla, my heart aches for you in that drive-thru. Your need for kindness was palpable. Thank you for sharing, and for showing us the importance of reflecting Christ to a hurting world. I can hear you smiling! 🙂

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    1. Leigh Ann, I always hear you smiling. Your friendship – and kinship through Christ – is a joy! Thank you for allowing me to share; I am grateful you are my sister-in-Christ. Our relationship means more to me than ever before (and I didn’t know that was possible!).

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  3. Charla, I love your statement, “As believers, we get to dispense joy to those in need.” It is a privilege to share His love and joy. I’m so sorry you didn’t hear a smile in someone’s voice when you needed it, but your pain reminds us how others may feel and how easy it is to offer what God gives us. Thank you for this important reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jeannie, even in this season of grief I see God’s redemptive work through us. I love Him. I love His way. I am humbled that He allows me to see beyond the pain, and into His will for those this side of heaven. It was a reminder for me, too. Thank you for taking time to read and respond.

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    1. Sylvia, if others only knew “the rest of the story”, they’d find it either ironic – or God’s providence – that a smile is the topic of this piece. To tell the truth, it just “hit” me 🙂 Thank you for sharing from your heart to mine.

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  4. I love this reminder.. and as I am writing this I am smiling. Whatever we are going through, wherever our life has bid us, joy is a choice that we must willingly make everyday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well said, Dawn. I hear you smiling. Joy IS a choice, an eternal choice through Christ. We’re smiling with you :-).

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