“The Stranger’s Smile,” Liahona, March 2017
I normally would have avoided him—a worn-down man playing a game of cards at a table in the play area of a local fast-food restaurant. He had a soft smile on his sad countenance as he watched the children play. “He must be warming himself from the cold,” I thought as I passed his table to throw away my daughter’s half-eaten meal. As I noticed his table, bare of any food wrappers or paper cups, the still, small voice whispered to me, “Buy him some food.”
I returned to my table with some cash still in my pocket. “I’ll embarrass him,” I told myself. Then a feeling of peace came, and the Spirit’s sweet whispering stilled me: “Buy him some food.”
I didn’t tell my children what I was doing; I just picked up some trash and went to throw it away so I could get near the man’s table without letting my friend who I was eating with know.
I leaned in and asked, “Can I buy you some lunch?”
He looked startled and softly replied, “If you want to.”
I pulled out the small amount of cash I had left—just enough for a meal and a drink—and gave it to the man. I returned to my seat, undiscovered by the busy moms around me, and watched the man get up to buy his meal.
As I loaded my children into the car to go home, I looked through the window and saw the man carrying a tray of food back to his empty table. On his once-solemn face was a smile.
The winter breeze blowing against my face didn’t feel quite so cold. I basked in the warm, joyful Spirit that filled me from my boots to my frozen ponytail. I remembered the teaching of the Savior:
“For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink …
“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? …
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:35, 37, 40).
I am thankful for the smile of a stranger that helped me find the courage to do what is right.