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27 Emojis

My eleven-year-old daughter is developing into quite the communicator. While I tend to favor oral communication, my daughter prefers the electronic variety, specifically text messages. A few weeks ago, she shot me a text. Mind you, she’s in her bedroom and I’m in the living room like fifteen feet away. She had a burning question she just couldn’t wait to ask – “Dad, can we get Whataburger?” For those of you reading this outside the state of Texas, Whataburger is a fast-food chain as well as a major food group for many Texans, my daughter included. As I carefully considered her question, pondering what I might like to have there myself, I replied – “Yes!” Not two seconds later, the screen on my iPhone was filled with smiley face emojis, 27 of them to be exact. And these weren’t just your garden variety smiley emojis, they were the ones with big eyes! Her response communicated what words simply could not and reminded me actions often speak louder than words.

That’s the power of the emoji. A little history for you, the emoji was first created in 1999. What started as a few icons from one cellular provider in Japan developed into a language all its own. It’s not enough to just have emojis anymore. Now you’ve got Animoji’s, and if you’re really cool, a Memoji. The emoji has opened the world of digital written communication to the addition of emotion. Only old guys like me use exclamation points and other punctuation to try and communicate emotion. The rest of the world knows emojis are where it’s at. Even our digital communication has emotion because emotion is powerful.

Think about the power of emotion in the gym. Have you ever been in the gym on a testing day? The athletes all gather around one another, and they channel their emotion through encouragement. Sometimes I think people are more excited for someone to get a new one rep max than the actual athlete herself. Emotion is powerful when channeled through encouragement. It’s also channeled through community. CrossFit gyms are the only gyms I’ve been to where once an athlete finishes the workout, they start supporting the rest of the community. This goes on until every athlete finishes the workout, at which time the whole gym erupts in praise and applause. There’s emotion in community and guess what? It impacts the outcome. So why not be a 27 emoji athlete? Instead of encouraging one athlete, encourage them all. Instead of putting your equipment away first, put away someone else’s. Emotion is powerful and it impacts the outcome.

Not just in our quest for physical fitness, but spiritual fitness as well. And the greatest channel for emotion in your spiritual life is love. I would argue there might not be a more powerful emotion on the earth than love. Love is patient, love is kind, it doesn’t envy or brag or boast. Love is a good gift given to us by a good God who loves us. And it impacts the outcome. Love reignites intimacy, it forgives offenses, it reflects the image of God to the world. So, here’s the challenge for you. Why not live a 27 emoji life of love? God’s love for us is not dependent on how we show up. What if we could learn to love like that? How much would it feel like shalom for you to keep your love on when you don’t have to. That’s a hallmark of a spiritually fit life.

27 emojis brought me so much joy. They made me laugh so hard. One emoji wouldn’t have done it. A short text of thanks even with exclamation points wouldn’t have done it. The emotional expression of the goodness and richness of life was sitting right there in those 27 little icons. Your actions can speak far louder than your words, so go show the world some 27 emoji love and encouragement!

Questions for Reflection:

Where do you excel in your expression of love and where could you use work?

If you had to describe God’s love in a few words, how would you describe it?

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