Swearing and Smiling

I first met Ms. Hickman about six years ago, soon after moving onto Cockerell.  She was an active and passionate part of our neighborhood association. For a variety of reasons, the association has not met for quite some time, and my interactions with her had become scarce.  So one day I decided to pay her a visit. Ms. Hickman loves visitors. She offered me some water and we caught up on life. She shared with me her grief since her husband died in January. She is worried because her home needs some repairs, and her husband was always the one to take care of those kinds of things. Though somehow, Ms. Hickman always has a smile on her face, and she credits her trust in the Lord for this.

She is also delightfully honest. “Sometimes I’ll walk through the house and kick the table,” she started, before turning to look me straight in the eye, “And I say, s***!’” We both laughed.

“But the Lord is so good to me,” she continued. “If you come by and hear me hollerin’, you know I must be praisin’ the Lord.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Either that, or you kicked the table again.” And we laughed some more. We talked more about the goings on in the neighborhood for quite some time before I finally needed to return home.

I had gone to visit Ms. Hickman to minister and encourage her. As I stepped out of her door, though, I realized she had ministered to me. She encouraged me. I was not aware of how deeply I needed to hear her tell me about the unshakable trust she has in the Lord.

More recently, I called Ms. Hickman to ask if I could come over again. Hers is a valuable story, and I want to hear more of it. It wasn’t a good time, as it turned out. Her mother had passed, and she was with family in Odessa making the proper arrangements. It has been a tough year for Ms. Hickman, but I know that when I do see her soon, there will be a smile on her face. She will be honest about her hurt, but it will not keep her from smiling.

I have encountered plenty of people who will wear a smile in order to hide their pain from themselves or others. There are others still who lose their smile and their story for a long time, even after their pain is gone. But Ms. Hickman is a rare and valuable sort. She will share her grief and her trust in God in the same breath. Then she chooses to smile.