During the school year, it seems I have a lot more bad days than I do good days. I’m always so tired and it seems that all I ever do is study and go to work. The stressful events of the end of my junior year are approaching. My first two tests and a quiz on glycolysis are coming up on Monday, and all I want to do is lay in bed and sleep. Sometimes I feel that I have no joy. On the days that I am continuously coughing and struggling to take a deep breath without wheezing (like today), it’s hard to find that joy.
I woke up at 5 a.m. not feeling joyful in the least. I went to class at 8 a.m. with zero ounces of joy. I walked into work surrounded by those whose loved ones were sick and were in need of special care. No joy there.
I spent the first hour and a half at work in the dietetic office going through the list of patients that I had to see today. I flipped through page after page of each patient’s medical history, discerning what was important to their current health status and their diet. I saw a fifteen year old girl who had just given birth to a premature baby girl at 32 weeks. I saw a twenty-two year old woman with a slight mental retardation who had just given birth to a full term baby boy. A baby boy whose father this young mom had not known. A baby boy whose father had raped this sweet woman-leaving her to carry this child on her own.
I felt so down in the dumps this morning! But as I got on the elevator to see my next few patients, I met an older woman whose smile seemed to light up the entire elevator. This little old lady, with gray streaks in her jet-black hair, smiled at me and said, “Well aren’t you precious! What do you do here?”
I laughed as she tried to read my name tag and told her that I am a diet technician. I noticed her gray scrubs, so I asked, “Are you a respiratory therapist?” She smiled and shook her head and she told me that she did EKG’s. She continued to talk about the patients she had already seen this morning, and even shared how she has done EKG’s on those that have already passed away. Her eyes widened as she told me her stories, and she made me smile for the first time that morning.
We went our separate ways as I headed back to the office and she headed to grab an early lunch. I thanked her for her lively conversation and wished her well. I don’t know what it was about this woman, but she shared her smile with me.
I’ve always wanted to be the woman that everyone says “lights up the room” whenever she walks in. I want to be the woman whose smile is completely contagious. I want to be the woman who has the joy of The Lord in her always, no matter what the circumstances may be.
I know that “the joy of the Lord is [my] strength” (Nehemiah 8:10) and I should “enter His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” (Psalm 100:4). But sometimes I fail. Sometimes I fail miserably. I forget that I am a woman who is extremely blessed. I sometimes wallow in my frustrations. But I am so thankful for the little words of kindness and encouragement.
Someone telling me that I am precious or cute happens often, and even though I often feel that I am too old to be called either of those, I think I will take the compliment. Not only will I take the compliment, but I will choose to spread a compliment to someone else. Share a smile.
Sharing smiles through compliments is an easy, non-painful, no-cost way to spread a few smiles: the cheapest way to immediately improve someone’s day and an incredibly easy way to share love with a stranger. I have to think about others instead of just wallowing in whatever ordeal my own day has involved. As I share smiles and spread compliments, I’m forcing myself to be others-focused instead of me-focused.
So even when I don’t feel well or I have allowed the things of this world to seep into my soul, I have to remember that it’s not all about me. There are others around me who are having a difficult time as well, and it’s up to me to share a smile with them.