One night about a month ago, Josiah began throwing a fit when it was time for him to get into his bed. I’m not sure what sparked it, but he was not his usual, sweet, bedtime-compliant self.
As he was crying and screaming in his bed, kicking off the blanket that I had just placed over him, my mind was searching for a distraction that would calm him down. When he’s over-tired, which he was, he will fight correction and comforting both. So, getting him to focus on something new is the best course of action.
For some reason, my mind latched onto a memory, a family story of my mom and her sister talking on the phone.
My mom has a rather creaky smile, so when she smiles, you can hear it. One day while they were talking on the phone, my aunt must have said something to which my mom hadn’t responded but had smiled about, and my aunt said, “I hear you smiling!”
It became a saying in our family – “I hear you smiling”- and not only does my mom’s smile creak, mine does, too. I inherited the creaky-smile gene.
Listening to Josiah crying in the dark, I had an idea.
“Listen,” I told him. “Shh. Shh. Listen. See if you can hear Mommy smile. Close your eyes and listen.”
The request caught his attention enough for him to settle down, close his eyes, and lie quietly, waiting for me to smile.
A little giggle, and his eyes popped open.
“Did you hear it?” I asked him.
Smiling, he nodded. Then he said, “Now you close yours eyes, and I smile.”
Of course, I did.
He has inherited the creaky-smile gene, as well. (Maybe everybody’s smile creaks. I don’t know. I just know that ours do in our family… How many people just tested their smiles? Did you close your eyes and listen?)
The funny thing is, sitting there with my eyes closed, it was nearly impossible NOT to smile whenever I heard Josiah’s little *creak*.
We took turns, closing our eyes and smiling at each other and smiling back and giggling in the dark.
After a few minutes, Josiah was ready to sleep, all the fight and fit completely forgotten, replaced with creaky smiles.
Isn’t it amazing what a smile can do? Even one in the dark? Our little game immediately calms Josiah now. Even in the middle of the day, he’ll come up to me and say, “Close yours eyes, and I smile.”
Something about it all makes me think of God and how He is always with us.
We can be in a big struggle or storm, and the Holy Spirit is right beside us. It might be dark, but He’s there. We might not be receptive to His correction or comfort, being wrapped up in wanting things our own way, but He’s there.
Then He’ll whisper, “Listen. Close your eyes, and see if you can hear Me smile.”
If we do it, if we turn our attention to Him for even a moment, we’ll hear Him. If we focus on being in His presence, listening for Him, we can hear Him smile.
Why would God be smiling when we’re in a struggle?
Because He’s is in control.
Because when our attention is on Him, He can help us so much more.
Because in those quiet moments, He can soften our hearts, preparing them for whatever He needs to speak to us, be it encouragement or correction.
Because in His presence is peace and “fullness of joy.” (Psalm 16:11)
So instead of fighting, “close yours eyes” and listen.
When God smiles, you’ll hear it. You’ll feel it. You’ll know. And you won’t be able to help but smile, too.