Some of my friends and I used to go to McDonalds a lot when I was in college. At this McDonalds, there was an item on the menu that was free:
“Smiles are Free!” It said it right there on the menu.
It cracked us up! Generally we’d get to the window and the person wouldn’t be smiling. Go figure. We’d tell them that we forgot to order something, which generally annoyed the fast food workers. Then we’d say, “we’d like to order a few smiles…” and immediately the workers faces would light up. Some of the workers were puzzled because they didn’t even know it was on the menu, and we’d have to explain it to them. But in the end…we ended up with a bunch of “free smiles,” happier people, and a better day for everyone.
I also used to go to a Jack-in-the-Box once in a while near my home to grab some fast food. Every time I got to the window, I’d see a poster on the wall inside. It had this one little saying on it that I’ll never forget:
“Smiles…” it said, “never go down in value, or up in price.”
(Are you getting an idea of how healthy my eating was in my younger years?)
I think sometimes we’re too glum in the way we worship. Maybe it’s just a personality thing, and I know everyone is different, but we’ve got to allow ourselves to enjoy our time at church, in meetings, and everything related to the gospel. We should allow ourselves to have more fun and to smile more often.
Why is it…that it seems like so many people feel the need to wear a solemn face when they go to church? Church is not something that we need to always be so serious about. Our callings, responsibilities, and time at church should never produce more anxiety in life.
Church is designed to be a place where brothers and sisters and friends come together to share things of happiness with each other and the result should be happy smiling faces. It’s a celebration of a selfless act, from a selfless Savior who died so that we could be hopeful and happy instead of hopeless and glum.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be serious and reverent at times. The sacrament especially, is a time of deep personal reflection and gratitude for an ordeal in Gethsemane and Golgotha that is not fun at all to think about. I also understand that sometimes we get emotional and cry. Most of the time, those are tears of happiness and gratitude.
My grandma died a little over a year ago. She lived with us for almost my entire life. Her life was not easy. Not by any stretch of the imagination was it easy. It must have been at times, very hard for her to smile. I miss a lot of things about her, but what I miss the most from her was the relentless reminder for me to “be of good cheer.” Every stinking day of my life…I’d come downstairs to leave the house and there she was…with a slight grin…saying, “be of good cheer Gregory.”
I used to kind of hurriedly brush it with a “yeah ok…Grandma…whatever you say,” and now I look back and see that the command from Christ Himself for us to be of good cheer was something she might have had to remind herself every day of her life. Because of her example, I’ll never forget Doctrine and Covenants 68:6. Ever. It is a commandment that is too often overlooked and neglected.
From the days of being 21 years old, surfing everyday, and just barely becoming acquainted with the gospel and it’s teachings, I realized something very important. That is…that the gospel is cool! The doctrine is cool! The hope it brings is exciting, happy, and bright. The way that the restoration answers questions and sheds light on the darkest nooks and crannies of human thought is amazing to me.
For that simple fact alone, we should be happy to see each other at church whether we know each other or not. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked down the hall and passed by someone without even an acknowledgement. There have been times when I have smiled at a person passing by in the hall, and in return…a face of stone. No smile, no hello, nothing. And I’ve wondered to myself…”what if I was a lonely investigator…just trying to make a friend?”
The light of the gospel should shine in our faces. Our smiles are the conduit from which we can transfer some of that light to others.
If across the board, and as a church we improved just one aspect of our discipleship…that of smiling more, I believe it would do more good for missionary work and reactivation worldwide than anything else. Smiles are infectious, and people are drawn to your smile. They want to know why you smile…why you’re happy…and what makes you tick. Then they’ll want to be around you and all of the other people who lift their spirit with their smiles.