The pelts of a dribbling basketball accosted me as I rounded the usual curve on a pathway between homes that opened into an urban park. My earbuds in, I did not ordinarily hear the sounds of play but today was different. The melodies that accompanied me on my habitual daily walk had been muted. Having no beat to tread to, or song to stride with, my steps seemed spasmodic, uneven and irregular. I’d lost my rhythm in the silence.
Earlier, discouraged and disappointed, I laced my running shoes and stepped out of my front door. The chilly breeze of an autumn evening scratched my cheeks. I pulled my hood up over my ponytail, and hit the music icon on my phone assuming lyrics would release me from my hurt feelings. My ears were belted by Michael W. Smith.
There is strength within the sorrow
There is beauty in our tears
And You meet us in our mourning
With a love that casts out fear
Inwardly I groaned. And wondered if I had any tunes to conspire with my mounting crabbiness. Something with lyrics like:
You got it right / to be uptight/ as life ain’t going your way/ so just be cool/ and know you ain’t no fool/ so stamp your feet/ and tear down that tree/ for you deserve to retaliate!
And the corner of my lips turned down, pierced together with irritability. Kind of catchy that tune. Maybe something Brad Paisley would sing. Or Carrie Underwood. There’s that scene in that music video of hers where she takes keys to her cheating boyfriends supped up truck…
Quickening my pace, I dug my hands deeper into my jacket pockets. Despite the crisp breeze, I felt my forehead perspiring and my palms heating up. I pulled my hands out of my pockets, flipped my hood off and undid the front zipper of my jacket. Great, my stomach is now cramping. What’s up with that? And that basketball sound is crashing in my head. Is a headache coming on?
I’d let myself become a victim to ill-temper. And what was it getting me?
What is the cost of my feeling all these unnecessary annoyances?
Stress was what it was getting me. And the physical symptoms of stress. The adrenal glands flooding my body with stress hormones making my brain deflect blood towards my muscles causing my perspiration. My stomach ache and headache part of a long list of health problems linked to stress including insomnia, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, skin rashes, heart attack, and stroke.
But smiling? This is what happens when we smile:
Smiling can help you manage stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins, chemicals that makes you happier. Endorphin’s are the same chemicals you get from working out or running, resulting in what is known as a runner’s high. Smile more to get that high without running.
Smiling even makes your immune system stronger by making your body produce white blood cells to help fight illnesses. One study found that hospitalized children who were visited by story-tellers and puppeteers who made them smile and laugh had higher white blood cell counts than those children who weren’t visited.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
Can you see it, my friends? When we smile, allowing peace to flow again in our minds and hearts, we are in Christ. And this peace is good for our physical health! When I think about how perfectly we are designed, I cannot help but be awed and grateful.
I press play, the corner of my lips turning up from the hope of His promises as Michael W. Smith’s words grace my ears, and my steps fall into the rhythm of the melody.
You’re faithful forever
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us
And I smile.
What are you smiling about today?