Have you lost your beautiful smile? Don’t take it for granted

Published 12:00am Saturday, June 23, 2012

Two weeks ago I lost my smile…again. I didn’t think it could happen to me a second time, but the doctor’s diagnosis was Bell’s Palsy, a facial paralysis caused by a virus that typically takes four weeks to go away.

What makes me rather unique is that it occurred on both sides of my face – starting on the right side and moving to the left. To describe the symptoms of Bell’s Palsy, imagine going to the dentist for a procedure and your face doesn’t wake up for several weeks.

Bell’s Palsy has affected not only my mouth, but also my left eye, which has just started blinking again. My eyelid would not close completely, so I’ve kept adding artificial tears during the day and special eye drops at night. I’ve even worn a “pirate patch” to protect my cornea from getting too dry.

It’s weird trying to chew food or to brush my teeth when my mouth would not cooperate. Bell’s Palsy has amplified my hearing and altered my sense of taste. My doctor prescribed steroids, as well as vitamin B-12. I am thankful to say I am on the mend due to the multiplied prayers of friends and the God-given knowledge of medical treatment.

Like any adversity, there’s a lesson to be learned. Once again, I’ve realized how easy it is to take for granted simple things like a smile. Mother Teresa once said, “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”

Have you ever lost your smile? It could be caused by grief when a loved one dies, by serious illness, or a traumatic event. Sometimes just the day-to-day frustrations and circumstances of life can steal your smile. Our faces often reflect the cares and fears that weigh us down.

Once again, I’m reminded that happiness depends on what’s happening, which we often cannot control. But there’s a joy within that comes from God as we draw near to Him, no matter what the circumstances. I read once that “joy is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ.” Philippians 4:4 tells us, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.”

Author/pastor Adrian Rogers has said, “Happiness is a cosmetic; it is on the outside. Joy is character; it is on the inside. Happiness only meets your surface needs, but joy meets your deepest needs. Therefore, happiness is like a thermometer, it just registers conditions. Joy is the thermostat that controls the conditions…. Happiness is at its fullest when it is mingled with joy, when you know the joy of the Lord.”

This experience has given me a compassion for those who have had strokes that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. My smile will return to normal, and I’ll gladly wear it. I recently read, “A smile costs nothing but gives much…It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever…Some people are too tired to give you a smile. Give them one of yours.”

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