I’ve logged quite a few hours of my life in the “retail world,” and I shared most of those hours with the same people at the same location. You really get to know your co-workers when you rub elbows with them for extended periods of time. I developed a sense of comfort with many of them- a sense of community, trust, and an ability to let my guard down without fear of offending or being offended. I can remember punching in one day for an early shift. After a cup of coffee, I began my usual routine; grabbing the cleaning supplies and buffing the floors before the store opened up. Since the store was empty (and the rest of my coworkers were in the warehouse unloading the truck) I drifted into my own little world, humming quietly to the music that played on the ceiling speakers. I don’t remember having anything particularly “heavy” on my mind on that day, but a coworker approached me from around the corner, slowly, and asked...
Coworker: “Hey... are you alright?”
Me: “Yeah, I’m fine. Why?”
Coworker: “Are you sure?”
Me: “Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?”
Coworker: “I don’t know… your face just says otherwise.”
Me: “Just lost in thought, I guess, but no, I’m perfectly happy.”
Coworker: “Well, you should look like it, and tell your face to catch up.”
I offered a halfhearted smile at his comment, but we both managed to chuckle as he walked away. I suppose I could’ve been annoyed by this. I could’ve just shrugged it off and moved on, but something about his words reverberated in me. No one “likes” being told how they appear, what they should feel or how they should act, but he must have seen something in my demeanor that was worth addressing. He had good intentions, from a caring place in his heart, and there was some truth to what he said. Something about the way I carried myself that morning must have given him the impression that I wasn’t alright. I can’t say that was the first time anyone ever said something like that to me, and I can’t promise that it will be the last. That brief encounter took place years ago, but I still recall it to this day. I reflected on that this week and it got me thinking.
There will be some instances in your life when those around you will have a split second to construct an opinion about you. They’ll study what’s written on your face, determine your "attitude" from your expressions and in some cases, be left with that impression about you. I can’t say if this is “right” or “wrong.” It’s just reality. It’s how our minds work. Our faces function like “mood rings” sometimes; showing what we’re feeling whether we like it or not. Expressions can say a lot about what’s going on inside of you.
Of course, there are loopholes and not every person has a demeanor the same as the next. Some of us are masters at hiding our emotions, carefully masking them behind a false bravado of confidence or composure because we want the world to think we have ourselves “together.” Some of us project our emotions on anyone nearby. We seek sympathy or attention- we “wear our heart on our sleeve” for all to see. Some of us just express what we’re feeling with “words,” but our faces still say otherwise, and it leaves others wondering what's really true; like saying “I’m happy,” as they frown, or “I’m sad,” as they smile.
I can’t decide whether this should matter or not in your personal life. After all, we can’t make everyone care about our feelings and adversely, we can't fool everyone from seeing the truth. However, as it pertains to spirituality and your walk with the Lord; the expressions you wear (outwardly) CAN be a true reflection of your testimony. They can act as proof of what God has done (and is doing) in your heart. Sometimes, your face is a dead giveaway of your attitude towards your heavenly Father. Is He written there?
When you stop and think about it, it doesn’t really make much sense to claim a belief in God- love Him, trust Him, or find joy and passion in Him only to wear a face that displays gloom, boredom, complacency or discontentment. What are others supposed to believe about the Lord when they see this in you? Will this convince them of the "great God" you claim to serve? I doubt it, and It won’t do much to help your “cause for the kingdom” if others look at you and wonder “why should I care about their God if they don’t seem to?”
I’m not so sure we should profess a passion for the Lord if our faces can’t show it. Joy can’t be very real if we hide it in the quiet of our minds. Yes, your faith can be "personal," but it shouldn’t be tucked away from the view of others. The love of Jesus is not a possession to keep stuffed in a shoe box under your bed. Sure, we all have moments of weakness. Our spiritual strength will ebb and flow, but we should never fake our passion toward God (it will do more harm than good) and we can’t always stand on our soapbox and preach joy to the masses. Just remember... others are watching you. The world waits and observes, longing to see if this love you "claim" is really worth the effort. Your face will eventually give away the health of your spirit.
I’m a worship leader. I’ve led services at churches of all shapes, sizes, denominations and backgrounds, but even amidst these variations, there are two consistent groups I’ve noticed in all of them. There are those who profess a passion for God with their mouths, but when it comes time to worship, I find them mumbling along with the words, standing stone-faced with their hands in their pockets. I have to wonder if their “verbal” passion is just a farce. If it’s real, why doesn’t it show when they're given the opportunity sing of God’s glory? How could they not raise their hands and cry out? On the other hand, there are many others who live out a quiet faith. They rarely make their passion known to others in conversation, but when it comes time to worship, they’re the first ones with their hands in the air, singing with a loud voice. It's like the music shook the dust off their bones. Are they faking their spirituality? Perhaps they just thrive in the energy of a worshipful moment. I have looked out over countless congregations to find a mixed sea of blank, emotionless expressions AND enlightened, outspoken worshipers, but somehow, they’re ALL mouthing the same words of joy and hope and salvation. How do I know if what’s written on their faces is truly how they feel toward God? Yeah, I know the “right” answer… “well...that’s between them and the Lord,” but it doesn’t stop me from wondering.
It isn’t my place to try and understand if their expressions match the condition of their heart. It isn’t my role to dig into what anyone might be going through. I can’t change anyone’s outward response to the Lord, but I will repeat what I said earlier... your face is the first thing people will look at. It’s the canvas that paints the picture of your soul. Your expressions tend to stem from an overflow of your heart and what your face says may be the only “truth” some will ever know about you. Wouldn’t you like to know that they’re seeing a real and loving God?
Thankfully, Jesus did not leave us empty handed when He ascended to the Father. He promised us the gift of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Our hearts impact our attitudes, and our attitudes determine our expressions, so reliance on the Holy Spirit can redirect the whole path. It creates transparency within us, to act how we feel. The Spirit changes us, from the inside out. The seed of God is planted within you, but you have to be willing to accept its leadership. Being controlled and governed by that Spirit will be evident in your demeanor. Your face will show it. It will show joy and confidence in God during the highs, and trust and reliance on Him in the lows. The Spirit sifts your heart and sorts your feelings. God wants to promote His glory through you so the world can see it written all over your face.
“The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts.” -Proverbs 20: 27
Be governed by the Holy Spirit today. Listen to it. Let God take control. Let it show on that face of yours!
“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” - Galatians 5: 25