Whenever I revert to my middle-school self (roughly every 20 minutes), I’m tempted to do lots of things: make puns. Lots and lots of puns, because puns are punny. People want to hate them, but they can’t. I’m also tempted to watch SpongeBob SquarePants. I despise him when I’m being an adult, but my middle-school version digs him and his maniacal laughter. I’m also tempted to use dumb jokes, like this one:
Is your face hurting you? Because it’s killing me!
Editor’s Note: Feel free to nominate his wife for sainthood here.
Middle-school humor or not, anytime your face goes public, you run the risk that it’s hurting you. For example: last weekend we had a snafu during communion. Immediately after the service, I tracked down our deacon who heads up that ministry so we could correct the aforementioned snafu. It was not a big deal and required one simple step to fix it and make everything right again. But on my way to track him down I ran into his wife, who later told me that my face was killing her (not in so many words, but I know that’s what she felt in her heart). In my pursuit to find him and fix the problem, I communicated that I was mad as all get-out and I wasn’t going to take it anymore. We laughed about it and moved on, but that conversation reminded me of the power of our facial expressions:
What I perceive as intense, others interpret as angry.
What I intend as focused, others read as ticked off.
What I mean by task-oriented, others define as I hate people and want to throw their children off a bridge.
In short, I have to keep my face in check on Sunday morning. I’m one of those guys who expresses his emotion like a 12 year old girl…if I’m feeling it, you know it. If it’s funny, I’ll laugh out loud. If it’s sad (hello, Toy Story 3), my chin will quiver and you’ll see my eyes get moist. If it’s a televangelist, I’ll yell at the set rather than order the prayer cloth (our gift to you when you send your love gift today).
That’s okay when it’s just me and the joke-teller or me and the movie screen or me and the televangelist. But when it’s me and the public, that’s when I have to watch my face.
And so do you.
Don’t let the activity of your mind dictate the direction of your appearance. If you’re dealing with a guest at your church, do so with a smile on your face. If you’re in a rush, consciously slow down and get on their pace. If you’re having a bad morning, set it aside so they don’t have one, too. If you’re trying to fix a programming snafu, remember that what you think of as a fix can come across as funk.
Watch your face, because I’ll guarantee you others already are.