The woman stared out the window, watching people move about the busy street and in and out of the café where she sat. She had been turned down for yet another film, and left her apartment to escape the gloom inside.
Her eyes locked on a man several years older than her, who seemed to vaguely remember her. He was struggling not to stare at her, and seemed mildly curious. This was good; it was what she had hoped for. She walked over to the man and introduced herself with a smile. He smiled when she mentioned her stage name, immediately nodding to himself. He told her that he had watched her play various roles through her teenage years, and said what a great actress she had been for one so young.
She took the compliment with a smile, hoping he might say a little more but he was finished. She asked after his interests in movies and television, and for a few minutes they conversed together. Suddenly she realized the conversation was about to end, he had already started on his excuses explaining why. He needed to go; he had an important meeting and would soon be late. She was obliging and immediately sent him away with a smile and a wave. At least he had remembered her, she thought.
As the man’s shadow disappeared behind the corner she felt her mood drop. After several minutes of hoping to be noticed, she sank back in her seat. People met her eyes but there was no recognition. A woman passed by with two girls,. Neither of them looked like her, she noticed quickly. Their clothing was shabby and didn’t fit well, but they appeared neat enough with their hair nicely done and a smile that brightened their appearance. That was something she had been taught to do so well as a child, to smile all the time.
She remembered the lesson, and how angry her nanny had been with her until she began to smile. Once she started smiling, her nanny was happy and let her have many extra privileges like staying up late. The cameras had rarely caught her in public without a smile, for she became quite good at smiling in response to many things; a crooked tie, a bead of sweat on the adult who was talking, various sounds she considered ‘special’, and on the list went.
The girls entered the café and sat in a nearby booth and were close enough that she could hear them talking. They were great talkers, telling each other of something that seemed exciting and new to them. She heard the lady with the girls make a noise and heard giggling. Her blouse was obviously wet with ketchup and she seemed very unhappy about it. She walked to the restroom without a word and the girls began to whisper to each other. It was certain that one of them had caused the problem and the other was chastising her for it.
The woman had her eye on the front door, watching for anyone who might catch her eye and recognize her. She was very surprised to see the lady who had been with the girls march out the door of the café without a look back. She waited to see what would happen. It seemed odd and dangerous for her to leave them alone for very long. The girls continued talking, but their conversation died away. Finally they decided to visit the bathroom to find the lady. They used her name, which gave her the impression they were not related to the woman.
She debated what to do for only a moment as she watched the girls return to their seats, looking around the restaurant for any sign of their companion. With a sigh, she stood up and explained the situation, noting the disappointment in the faces as she spoke. “Children must have a smile; it is too grim if they do not.” She caught herself thinking the words she knew from constant repetition. She offered to buy them lunch and help them home, hoping to resolve the lost look in those innocent eyes.
Over the meal she came to understand they were girls who belonged to a club that partnered with responsible adults to mentor and guide them, in hopes to see their futures improved by example. She had heard of the club, but never knew exactly what it was. She asked for their names, and then bid them goodbye as they drove away in a taxi she had paid for. Her lunch companions had been unexpected, but she had actually enjoyed herself. She some further thought about what had happened and then called the club.
After a review period and a few background checks, she was accepted as a mentor in the club. She had already explained the story multiple times to several dismayed volunteers who shook their heads at it. She asked about the girls and was happy to find out that the two were sisters, still in need of a mentor. Their second meeting was less awkward, for before she could say a word to introduce herself the girls squealed in delight. The smiles on their faces was all the reward she could want.
—————Thoughts that motivated this section of the story—————
In this story I wanted to reflect on being insignificant
13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. – KJV
13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men. - ASV
In Matthew 5:13 Jesus explains a concept for living to those who listen to Him. They are ‘salt’ and that is an interesting analogy. I thought quite a bit about salt this week, and what it does. Salt enhances, but only by being a very small part of the dish. We notice salt when it is missing, but we don’t notice it when it is present. That is because salt is not significant, it is not the focus of the meal. Even something very salty is not by itself enough. So how would that apply to mankind?
In putting myself on par with salt, I must admit I am not the reason behind everything or everyone. I am a part of all of it, but only in a small way. If I desire to be noticed and to be significant, that would be contrary to my purpose. If God created me to glorify Him, I do that best by being less focused on myself and more on Him and His glory. In this story the child star had defined her significance by her popularity, and was crushed by rejection. We too will be disappointed if our focus remains on ourselves. When we turn our focus to helping and serving, our hearts naturally lift up and the smiles we have are genuine.
By being focused on our Creator, we enhance our surroundings and the people we meet and interact with. I have concluded that an outward focus that is generous brings pleasure, while an inward focus brings pain. The Lord warns us here not to lose ourselves to that inward temptation. If we give in, we become like salt that has lost its flavor and is not good for anything. At the cross our selfishness and defiance to God was paid, and I do not intend to let that truth sit in me alone. When I praise Him and serve others, I find satisfaction; even though I am merely a footnote.