“What? My charming smile is not frightening! It’s warm and inviting!” – Van, Reba
“Let’s sing that once more … this time I want to see your smiling faces!” The worship leader announced as we repeated the chorus for the last time. This wasn’t the first or the last reference they would make to our apparent need to be happier or to smile more often during that particular service. It just didn’t sit well with me. Turns out, I’m not the only one. There are quite a few blog entries out there about how Christians don’t smile nearly enough. There are just as many about the lack of smiling faces made people feel unwelcome.
I think the expectation of seeing everyone smiling is unrealistic. For one, not everybody is a smiler. Some people are pefectly content all the day long and yet might not smile even once. That’s not a failure of happiness on their part, but on others who don’t know what happiness or contentedness looks like without smiling. There’s also such a thing as too much smiling; which often sets of a warning that something’s wrong here and can denote creepiness. With so many smiling advertisements and commercials, I think that so many people have begun to recognize that a smiling person is not necesarily a happy person.
(I manged 2/3!)
I really wish Christianity wasn’t so hung up on emotions. Some sects even teach that any emotion other than happiness is being sinful or comes from a rebellious attitude. These groups do the most damage of all – the deny humans as emotional beings and manipulate people to look happy all the time. No one can be happy all the time – it’s not humanly possible. But those coming out of these environments often find it difficult to adjust to real life or convey their genuine emotions after being taught to bottle up everything that isn’t happiness.
Just recently, a woman in my church began a support group for depression and anxiety. I thought: “Wow, being willing to admit that you’re flawed in a church of perfect people is a big step, I’m glad for you!” I have a feeling that the emotional release of talking about times when people can’t help but feel sad or afraid will result in genuine smiles that are far nicer than the fake smiles that Christians are expected to put on for church services. I think if Christianity wants to see more smiles, then the solution is to support one another in tough times – ‘mourn with those who mourn, be happy with those who are happy’ and to foster an environment where being happy is more important than looking happy.
I think visitors are far more likely to like a church where people actually are happy than one where people look like they are happy but they really aren’t.