Are you a good judge of other people’s happiness? Tell us about a time you were spot on despite external hints to the contrary (or, alternatively, about a time you were dead wrong).
I do have good radar. Partly, it’s inborn. Partly, in the work I do it’s something you develop. I honestly can’t remember a time I was wrong, although I’m sure there have been those times. So instead I’m going to share a short story about someone who was wrong about me.
This woman came to my church some 35 years ago. She was about my age, and a very outgoing person who truly enjoyed people and had a huge heart. I hadn’t met her yet, although I was aware of her.
I sang in the choir, and my seat was in the front row of the alto section. When you’re short, you always get to sit in front. I happened to notice this woman glancing at me from time to time, and wondered about it. I was certainly interested in meeting her, as she had a fascinating life story. I wanted to hear more about it from her, and not from other people.
We did meet, and we became good friends. She often ate the evening meal with us, and became involved with our kids. One day, as we were chatting, I asked her about the Sunday that I had noticed her glancing at me frequently. She laughed, and she said, “Well, I just thought you were a woman with a burden! I felt sorry for you because you seemed so sad, and I wondered what the problem was. Now that I know you, I realize how wrong I was; but when you’re serious, you really do have a sad face.”
Ah yes, my face. I inherited that from my dad, who often looked sad or even angry when he was simply thinking about something. At least one of my sons has the same face. When he was a kid in high school, he was accused by one teacher of being sullen when in truth he was just serious.
As I age, I see the downward lines around my mouth that are so much like my dad’s. I guess I’m just going to have to cultivate a permanent smile so people won’t think I’m a woman with a burden 🙂