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Wright Words: How a smile at Wal-Mart saved my day

Jason Wright and his friend, Chervon, cross paths at their local Walmart in Woodstock, Virginia, in June of 2016.
Jason Wright and his friend, Chervon, cross paths at their local Walmart in Woodstock, Virginia, in June of 2016.
Kodi Wright

A few days ago I woke up with a vision for the day as wide as the Grand Canyon. I had energy, big goals and hope in my heart.

Then I left the house.

I know it defies the laws of time, but somehow just an hour later I was already three hours behind on my schedule for the day. If it could go wrong, it did. If it could break, it broke. If it could smile, it frowned.

So did I.

Both my day and my countenance had gone from "bring it on" to "bring me a bag of gummies and my slippers."

Then, faster than you can say “Wal-Mart self-check,” I ran into a friend who reminded me that turning around the day, week or month starts with a smile.

Her name is Chervon and we met a few years ago in our fits-in-a-shoebox town. Chervon is a fellow member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and heaven must have known too long had passed since our paths crossed.

Trust me. This effervescent woman has more bubbles than a case of Sprite and her smile probably wakes up before she does. But it’s not the joyful eyes and bright expression that surprise people, it’s that no matter what life tosses her way, hope, optimism and that trademarkable smile never fade.

As we slowed down to catch up, I learned that my smiley friend has 101 reasons to let that grin sleep in. Since we last spoke, Chervon has survived job changes with more coming. She’s moved unexpectedly with another one possible. She’s managed a complicated family situation that has tested her ability to trust.

Oh, and she’s living with and caring for a grandmother fighting stage four cancer.

“And you’re still smiling?” I wondered.

“Of course!” She said and her impossibly wide smile grew even wider.

“What’s your secret?” I asked, and I confessed that if she agreed, the moment and her answers would soon appear in this very column.

Not surprisingly, she smiled.

“People ask me that at work all the time. How I can be so happy? I see them looking sad and I don’t get it. I love to dance, sing and make them smile, too.”

Chervon explained that she’s not just smiling for herself, she’s smiling for them. “It can change someone’s day," she said. "Smiling should be mandatory!”

It’s all about faith. Her smile, which sometimes masks worry and doubt, demonstrates high faith to God that she believes everything is about to get better.

Then, if it doesn’t, she smiles again, again and again.

For Chervon, smiling is an act of faith that blesses everyone around us. “I think God wants us to smile,” she said. “Even when we don’t feel that way inside. Smiling is good for the soul. Plus it’s contagious.”

Yes, Chervon, it sure is.

As we said goodbye, we promised to reconnect soon and she laughed that if I wrote this piece, she might have to actually buy a newspaper.

We laughed again and I promised her that our meeting hadn’t been by chance. “I believe the Lord meant for us to run into each other today. I needed this.”

With a final smile, I walked away feeling like someone had connected my entire day to spiritual jumper cables. Then I wondered how many others had been similarly blessed by this habitually smiling woman.

That faith. That hope. That smile despite the odds.

I’m pleased to report that my day didn’t completely turn around, but my attitude sure did. And I went to bed committed to smiling my way through whatever the morning might bring.

Thanks, Chervon. Your smile saved my day.

Jason Wright is a New York Times best-selling author of 10 books, including "Christmas Jars" and "The Wednesday Letters." Learn more at, or connect on Facebook at or by email at