About 15 or 20 years ago, I went through some bad stuff. When I came out of it, I thought that I had shame written across my face, that everyone who saw me could see what a loser I was. I felt worthless.
I took a hit emotionally and decided to make some changes. The first step was getting a new job. My old job was so toxic it was part of the things that were bringing me down. I worked long hours for people who treated me poorly (the story of my life back then) and needed to sever ties and focus on getting something new.
I landed a job interview just as I was making my way out of my emotional rubble. I felt raw and exposed, and while I was a great worker and had solid experience I was in a fragile place and didn’t think I could convey the confidence I needed to get the new gig. I remember the receptionist asking me to take a seat and then staring at me. And staring at me. I thought she knows I’m a loser and started to feel worse when suddenly she said, “I just have to tell you something. You have such a kind face. I’ve been sitting here thinking that and just wanted to tell you.”
I was blown away. A God moment, for sure. I have no doubt He gave her a little nudge to get her to express her thought but I was so grateful. I relaxed. I went in and aced the interview, got the job, and worked for a wonderful boss. I didn’t know it then, but this boss would be the one I had to call a year later and tell her I wouldn’t be coming into work because my father had killed himself. And when I told her I was confused and overwhelmed she asked what was on my mind, what was hanging over me that she could help with and then stressed that again by saying, “Anything. Don’t be afraid to say it.”
So I said it. I was afraid to clean up the mess. You know… the mess. I was sick to my stomach thinking about it, and she didn’t blink. Said she’d take care of it, and found a place that did it. Then she said, “Check that off your mental list, and call me with anything. Anything.” She was so wonderful. My God, what a blessing it was to have her in my life. She was also a hoot and a half. I’ll tell you more about her one day.
But it all started with that smile that lovely receptionist gave me, and those beautiful kind words that lifted the shame right off my shoulders. Only God can brush away shame like that.
And He uses people, you and me, to do just that. And if you’re ever wondering what you can do to help someone, please know it is often the smallest of things, the simple, kind things that you might not even think twice about, that God uses to bolster our spirits.
That’s what this poem is about.
so brief and sincere
invites me to share my own,
not just with
but with someone else.
who doubts themselves.
Just when I wonder
how I’ll find
how I’ll know
that they’re in need
a voice reminds me
kind to all
that God’s work
will be done
© Cherie Burbach, “The Smile,” My Soul Is From a Different Place, 2014
This poem is from my book, My Soul Is From a Different Place.