Game Face


“How are you today?”

The woman working at the checkout line greeted me as I walked up to the credit card swiper. Hmmm…must be part of a new policy. It seemed like everyone behind the registers greeted each customer with the same words.

I lifted my head to say something in response, but I stopped before I began. The words that came from the worker were friendly, but she was not in the mood today.

Her head down, already scanning the UPC codes on my purchases, I knew she didn’t want any conversation.

She had on her Game Face.

This encounter reminded me a performance review I had a long time ago. I was a young Mom with two small children under the age of three. I had a good babysitter, but she wouldn’t take my kids if they were sick. Completely understandable.

My boss looked at me across the desk. “You need to reduce your absences.”

I agreed. But I didn’t have a back-up sitter. My husband had the full-time job (with insurance), so I felt I should be the one to stay home. I told her I’d do my best, but it was a tough situation.

She looked at me for a few seconds. Then she said, “You have to reduce your absences.”


She had on her Game Face.

Have you ever met someone with a Game Face? It’s like they have only one dimension. The are carrying out one role, with no room for any other attitude or peek at personality.

I know that my items at the store will be rung up. That will happen whether it’s a pleasant experience or not. I’ll get the raise my boss wants to give me, whether she understands or cares about my challenges at home.

But still, I’d rather not talk to Game Faces.

I have had experiences checking out with cashiers who are honestly happy. It’s fun. I know we only have a few minutes together. Why not make it a happy moment? A person who likes what they’re doing can light up my day. Something as simple as chatting about the weather creates a bond.

It’s a good challenge for me. I don’t want to be satisfied with being a one-dimensional person.

When I was working as a nurse, there were some pretty hectic days. Whether it was the Operating Room, floor at the hospital or the doctor’s office, they all had demands on my time. Everyone needed something, and they were legitimate needs.

I really hope I didn’t put on a Game Face.

No one is perfect. I’m not. The cashier and my boss aren’t either. We’re all going to have tough days and not be able to be our best selves. But my goal is to grab joy, that wonderful spiritual gift, and share it.

I want to be engaged, listening and caring. That creates a bond of love with everyone I see today.

So much better than a Game Face, don’t you think?


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Linking today with: Wanda’s Friday Five Fellowship

68 thoughts on “Game Face

  1. As I read your great post I thought: Jesus did not have a Game Face.

    He could have easily clicked His fingers and a whole crowd of sick people would have been healed. But He did not do that. At every opportunity He stopped, talked to the individual, before healing him or raising a deceased relative or friend. He could have multiplied the loaves of bread and fishes by just thinking about it. But He did not do that either.

    It’s true that in this busy world we all have a Game Face. I confess I did it often when very busy. But what an example we have in Christ.

    Thanx Ceil, for the reminder to treat people as people and not another item on the conveyor belt of life.

    God bless.

    • Hi Victor! Great point about how Jesus never had that Game Face. He always extended himself.

      It can be really hard and stressful to continually reach out, and I guess that’s why even Jesus went away to pray, or to be alone. He shows how we can all recharge to try again.

      I know I’ve had that Game Face at times, and I really don’t like it. When I realize it’s coming, I do try to stop myself and reset. But it’s not easy!

      Have a good weekend my friend 🙂 It’s always great to see you!

  2. Ceil…this is really good. I am thinking that the game face is also sometimes used at church. I want to be the genuine article…not “programmed” to be a certain way because someone told me I had to. Thank you for this thought-provoking post, friend!

    • Hi Debby! I know you’re right about the church thing. We meet so many people there, it’s easy to slip into a Game Face.

      Being ourselves and open to all is hard work sometimes. Especially when I’m tired or stressed. Thank the Lord for his grace to help me be the person he created me to be! I am not always successful, but I’ll keep trying.

      Thank you for your visit today 🙂

  3. What a great post and an excellent reminder. As a teacher, I have a lot of demands from a lot of people during the day. I’m going to try to remember this post as I go through my day and be more truly caring and not just wearing my “game face.” Thanks again and have a great weekend!

    • Hi Deb! You would be in the same boat as me. Always with people, and answering questions. It would be easy to slide into that Game Face!

      Thank you for your encouraging comment, I’m so glad you liked the reminder.
      You have a great weekend too 🙂

  4. Yes! Yes! Yes! That is what I was saying as i read through this Ceil!
    What a wonderful post, my friend.
    I agree.
    I always feel a connection to others when they connect with me. And I appreciate it so much.
    It truly makes a difference.
    During my father’s stay in the nursing home, we were blessed with many nurses and aides that cared for him. Many were good, some wore “Game Faces”. But one in particular connected to my father. As a person. She looked in his eyes as she spoke to him. She put her hand on his face and reassured him with her soothing voice. She made an effort to see him as a human being, not simply as another resident who needed pills.
    The day before he passed, my father was unable to communicate well.
    Yet I will never forget…when she came on duty and came to Dad’s room, she came to his bed, smiled and said, “Bill…I am here!” He turned his head, opened his eyes, and whispered, “My friend…”
    What an impact one person can have on another…
    And something tells me, my friend, that is the type of nurse you are.
    Well, time to dry my tears and start a new day. : )
    Sorry for taking up so much space, Ceil…
    Thanks for being a friend!

    • Hi Billie Jo! The way you explained that visit of the nurse and your Dad made me tear up…I can’t imagine what an effect it has when you remember it.

      Our ability to lift each other is huge, isn’t it? If only we would understand and take ownership of it, what a world we would have. Full of ‘friends’ and faces of love.

      Thank you for sharing your experience here, I am so happy you did! You take up all the space you want my friend. You touched my heart.

  5. Well..I can tell husband will talk to a tree and that goes for ppl who put the game faces or the ppl who put on a face at all. It can be annoying at times, however, I have sense learned to go with it. Ppl need to lighten up and see good in everything, be is short..even in the check out lane. –thanks for making me smile..funny though, we were discussing this after we got in the car after visiting the store yesterday. Blessings

    • Hi Linda! My husband is quite a talker too, I understand completely!

      I think the idea that we can all try to extend ourselves is such a good one, and no place is too small for that, just as you pointed out. We all can make life a joy if we try.

      How funny that you were just talking about it with your husband! I think we all appreciate kindness. It makes us more of a family 🙂

      Have a good weekend my friend!

  6. I’ve experienced the game face too and have never enjoyed it. I’ve probably used it a few times as well, if I’m honest. I do attempt to smile and really talk to people though, and it’s always good to have a reminder like this!

    • Hi Mari! I’m so glad you can relate. Isn’t is annoying when you feel you are just getting a ‘face’ and not a person?

      Oh, I know I do it too. I’m not perfect. But seeing it in others should remind me how off-putting it is. And that I should strive to be the most authentic person I can be.

      Have a good weekend my friend 🙂

    • Hi Linda! Awww…thanks my friend. What a lovely comment.

      We all have to challenge ourselves to be truly ourselves, and not just a mask. It’s hard work sometimes, but it’s so worth it. We can change a persons day, just by our attitudes.

      And I love being with you too 🙂

  7. Ceil, What a great message…but then again, you don’t have bad ones, my friend. As the other woman pointed out, some people put Game Faces on at church. Our pastor once stated he’d like to be a fly on the roof of a car on the way to church with some couples as the ride in can be “pretty colorful and loud” at times. But upon arrival they seem like the All American Family. Too Funny. I think if we let our guard down and let more people in, we’d find our lives look a lot like our neighbor. Hope it warms up for you soon. Stay warm.

    • Hi Kim! What a great message from your pastor! My Mom used to be so disgusted by the way people bullied their way out of the parking lot after church. “They just came from church and look at how they act!” We thought it was funny at the time, but it’s a real truth!

      Love the idea of looking like our neighbor if we let them in. That’s really wonderful. Thanks Kim. I love that!
      I’ll fire up the hot chocolate. Into the deep freeze again. Ugh.

  8. I agree. I also want to be engaged, listening and caring towards everyone I come in contact with. I hope to be more mindful of when I’m wearing a game face. Thanks for sharing this with us 🙂

    • Hi Lauren! Thank you for coming over and reading! I am just as guilty as the next person, believe me. That’s how I can write about it…I know it so well.

      But i know that I don’t like it in others, so I shouldn’t tolerate it in myself. I have to work harder to be the person with the personality God gave me. It can change my day, and even someone else’s. Such a gift!
      Happy Weekend my friend!

    • Hi Elizabeth! That is another way we use a Game Face, thank you for bringing that up. We do tend to gloss over our joys and sorrows, but St. Paul said we should join others in their day, no matter what. We deny anyone the ability to do that if we are not telling the truth.

      Good point. Thank you!
      Happy Friday 🙂

  9. it doesn’t take much really to be that kind, genuine and generous woman we would really like to be. We just need to begin and see people – and you are so right, when we have our game faces on, we cannot see through eyes of love.

    • Hi Jeannie! How nice to meet you, thank you for your visit today 🙂

      I think it’s true that if we make the decision to honor others, our behavior will follow. If people just become a weight or a drudgery, on comes that Game Face.

      I look forward to learning more about you!

  10. Yeah, I often get the cashier that is paying more attention to what’s happening in another lane, or chatting it up with the bagger, and totally ignores me. But on the rare occasion I will get someone that is genuinely happy and it is always contagious 🙂
    I didn’t know you were a nurse. Thank you for your years of service! We sure had some great nurses over the years who took care of our daughter. It’s a demanding job.
    Have a great weekend!

    • Hi Anne! I know what you mean about the cross-talk. My physical therapist would do the same thing. As she is pulling on my shoulder, she’s yelling across the room about what’s for lunch. Sigh. I feel like a piece of meat!

      Thank you for your kind words about nursing. It’s a great profession and I’m glad I did it for so long. I’m on a break from medicine now…it’s been about two years since my last job. It is demanding!

      Thank you for your visit here and the Facebook page too 🙂
      Feel better soon!

    • Hi Natalie! I’m glad that you could relate to the message of the post today. It is hard to see people hide behind the Game Face. I always wonder why. Bad day? Been rejected?

      I always think it’s best to be who you are, and spread the joy I’ve been given. That changes things for the better 🙂
      Have a good weekend!

  11. Awakening thought. I must admit that it happens to me too. You know when somebody is talking to you and your thought is somewhere else…I hope and pray that I can be always in touch with all the people I meet everyday. To see them through God’s eyes.

    • Hi Joy! I like that phrase “awakening thought.” You sure do know when you see a Game Face, I agree.

      Seeing people through the eyes of the Lord is the perfect antidote Joy. I pray I can always do that too…or at least most of the time!
      Thank you for your visit today 🙂

  12. Not a fan of the game face either—-I think there are just so many unhappy people in the world today—that’s why we are seeing so much of it now. Hard to hide the emotions. Great, thought-provoking piece as always, Ceil!

    • Hi Marcia! You make a good point. When I am unhappy, I seem to spread that emotion better than I spread joy. Isn’t that funny? Negative emotions are easier to pass? That’s a sad thing.

      If I decide to spread as much of myself as I can, I could even lift the spirit of someone who is having a hard day. We can make a difference…we should make a difference!

      Thank you for your thought-provoking comment my friend!
      Happy Weekend 🙂

  13. I think, very often, those cashiers at the grocery store have learned not to expect any pleasant conversation from those in their lines. I’ve observed a lot of rude customers going through checkout lines, blaming the cashiers for everything from the prices of the items to the length of the line they’ve had to wait in. So, when I see the cashier trying to avoid looking at me, I make the assumption that she’s having a bad day; and I try to say something that might make her feel better. What I’m trying to say is that maybe that Game Face was really a Discouraged Face, and God put you there so he could offer her His encouragement through you. I’m sure you’ve often been a conduit of His love to others in your role as a nurse. Blessings to you for that!!!

    • Hi Linda! You make a good point, there can be all kinds of reasons for Game Faces. Disappointment, depression, abusive customers…that could be another blog post, couldn’t it?

      I certainly could have been placed there to be a light to that person. You never know what God has in mind. It’s a good perspective.
      Thank you!

      Have a wonderful weekend, and I pray we will both be a bright spot in someone’s day 🙂

  14. Hi Ceil,
    Yes, you’re so right. When someone is engaging to us, we want to reciprocate. It doesn’t take much effort to put on a happy face and be pleasant. I love to just strike up a conversation while standing in line. We all want human connection, don’t you think? That’s what life is all about. Blessings to you!

    • Hi Kitty! Thank you for visiting today!

      You make a good point about ‘human connection’. We were born for community, so it makes sense that we look for it everywhere.

      I was at Target the other day, and I shared with the checkout person that I was in therapy for my shoulders. He told me to feel his! It was so cute…but his shoulder had so many pops and crackles it was a little weird too. But you know, we were definitely making a connection!

      Have a restful night!

  15. If I know they have their game face on just to have it on, I ALWAYS try to get them to smile. I kill ’em with kindness. Sometimes, I leave with the parting comment, “I hope your day gets better.” Which usually makes them blink. LOL But when someone has it on for an obviously personal issue, I try to use a kinder more gentler approach.

    • Hi Patty! Good for you! I think that comment of hoping their day gets better lets them know you have noticed their difficulty, but not in a “in your face” way. That seems pretty kind and gentle to me.

      It can be difficult to overcome personal issues on the job, but I know we all have to try. Thinking about understanding where someone is coming from is a great way to draw them out.

      Have a good weekend 🙂

  16. Hi Ceil,
    I have come across this and I believe the problem is mainly people being in the wrong jobs. I worked for six years as a care worker in a home for the elderly and loved it as my mother had not been looked after properly when in a certain hospital after having a stroke and I felt I wanted to do my utmost for people in my mother’s position, not that everyone in the home had had a stroke. However, there was one lady working in the home who had no respect at all for the residents and she should not have been working there.

    • Hi Brenda! What a wonderful motivation to help others. I was also in health care, and you do see varying degrees of dedication to the job. Your point is a very valid one. Thank you.

      And how blessed the people in your care were…I’m sure you touched so many lives with your care.
      I’m sure that God blessed you many times over.
      Have a great weekend!

  17. You know I think the whole planet has their Game Faces on! I try very hard to be a positive, uplifting person with a smile on every time I go somewhere. I can’t stand it when someone acts just like you described. It’s a very frustrating thing for me. If you can’t have a positive outlook on your job, then why on earth are you working in retail or customer service?! You nailed it, Ceil. I choose Joy and Grace because God didn’t walk around with a scowl on his face, now did he? Besides, if you can get one smile or a friendly conversation from just one person while you are out in about, then you have changed that whole persons outlook for the day or that moment. We are to be the light….

    I hope your new adventure is going well, I have been lifting you up in prayer this week.

    Have a wonderful day!


    • Hi Amy! Thank you so much for your prayers, I really appreciate that. Please know that you are in mine too.

      We really can be the ‘light’ to others, but it does take effort. And like you said, maybe that person who is not doing well today really doesn’t like their job. In this economy, that certainly can be the case.

      There are many reasons to make any of us have a bad day. We rely on each other to lift us up, and on God. I pray sometimes to overcome a negative attitude, and even seeing someone smile helps me break it. But as you said too, I have to choose it. We all have to decide that we can be better than our emotions.

      I hope you and the family are doing well my friend. Again, thank you for remembering me when you pray. That is just priceless.

  18. Engaged, listening and caring. That’s my desire, too. I can’t imagine you are anything but that. Your help on Word Press was a blessing to me. I was in Walgreens this week and they are now saying, “Be well.” It gets to sounding “memorized” after you hear it with each customer.

    • Hi Pam! I am so glad that I could help you a little. I wondered if I was guilty of “too much information” and overwhelm you. Phew!

      It takes effort to be genuine. I hope that I will make the effort every day. It’s not easy! Even a canned sentence that you have to say can sound caring, depending on what you mean when you say it.

      God bless us all as we try to be present to our brothers and sisters!
      Good to see you today 🙂

  19. “But still, I’d rather not talk to Game Faces.”
    Ooh, very good point, Ceil, and one we all need to remember. We can have such a variety of Game Faces, too…. I hope I’ll be more aware now to keep that one shelved away!

    • Hi Lisa! I like your idea of there being many ‘Game Faces’. I agree that’s true. Professional or personal, we can all mask who we are and bury ourselves in the role of the moment. Good thought!

      I need to be more aware too. A kindness or a smile can change the day for ourselves and others too 🙂
      Have a good evening!

    • Hi Linda! It is, isn’t it. I guess a Game Face really is a wall that I can put up that hides my real self. And that is so sad…we are meant to shine and be God’s hands and feet. Not a fence or a barrier.

      Great point my friend! Love it, and thanks 🙂
      Happy Weekend to you!

  20. This post is so interesting. I can tell by your writing you are not one dimensional. You care! I especially enjoyed hearing about the early days of nursing and juggling motherhood.

    • Hi Mary! Thank you for your encouraging comments! I’m glad you liked the post. Those days with the young children seems so far away sometimes, and like yesterday in others. Never a dull moment, that’s for sure!

      I’m sure you did your share of juggling too. It’s amazing we made it, isn’t it? LOL!
      Have a great weekend, it’s so nice to see you again 🙂

  21. Dear friend, you did it again, you touched a nerve (in a good way).

    “I want to be engaged, listening and caring. That creates a bond of love with everyone I see today.” Yes, yes, and YES! I think I shall memorize this quote by the wonderful Ceil and live it out in my daily walk.

    Thank you for sharing and for caring. Blessings to you, sweet lady!

    • Hi Stephanie! You are such an encourager my friend. Thank you for your lovely comments.

      And thank you for supporting me on Facebook too. 🙂
      I hope you have a peaceful day!

  22. Love this Ceil!! Our light is meant to be seen by everyone. We should be the same whether we are at home, at work, shopping, or in church. Despite our troubles and heartaches, we can maintain the light of God in our hearts because we have learned to rejoice in all things and at all times. Our faces should shine with the glory of God, so that we can build each other up and encourage one another. ♥ No “game face”!!

    Blessings sweet sister; have a glorious Sunday!

    • Hi Denise! I really need to learn and relearn the ‘rejoice in all things and at all times.’ That passage really works for the post, thank you for writing that. If I know that it’s all for my good, I will have a much better attitude. And that can change the world.

      Blessings to you too! May you have a restful Sunday,

  23. Great post, Ceil! Being trained as a physician, we used our Game Face a lot, especially in hospital with patients and families we had just met and when the news was not good. But as Christians, we ought to love one another with compassion as Jesus loves us, and let that joy and peace light up our countenance. It’s OK to be genuine, even when we’re sad, rather than putting on our Sunday face. God bless you and your writing,

    • Hi Laurie! What an interesting concept..”Sunday face” That’s interesting. I’ll have to meditate on that one for a bit…

      I’m sure that as a doctor you had a Game Face. I think our professional ‘faces’ can be very soothing in situations that seem so out of control, like health issues. But even then, information mixed with kindness can be so powerful. We’re all here together, so why not be all that we are with each other?

      Thank you for your prayers Laurie. I really appreciate them. God bless you too, and may he continue to bless your talents for use in him.

  24. Excellent post, Ceil. Yes, I run into “game faces” regularly too. Your post made me think of Mother Teresa who always treated each person as if he or she were the only one in the universe at that moment. Imagine if we all did this every day? The ripple effect would be awesome 🙂

    • Hi Mary! You are so right to think of Mother Teresa. Her face just spoke of serenity and purpose, didn’t it? She was not a classic beauty, but her soul just shone through. Being yourself in Christ does that.

      I agree about the ‘ripple effect’ too. We were created to shine those lights, not hide behind our chosen Game Face.

      Good to see you my friend! Hope you are having a restful Sunday,

  25. The game face reminds me of shopping in our local market with our daughter when she was probably only 5 years old. The manager was making rounds while we were in the checkout and he greeted us there. When we got to the car our daughter said, “That man was fake”. I questioned what she meant and she said he was smiling while he was talking to us but he wasn’t really happy. He was fake. He had on his game face too. Such insight from a little one – and from you!

    • Hi Mindy! That is a great story!! Even a little one could tell that the market-man had a Game Face. Our of the mouths of babes, right?

      I think I’d be pretty amazed and maybe embarrassed to find out how many people saw through my Game Face. Ouch! It just points up the importance of being as genuine as we can be. And as charitable. It’s a struggle sometimes, that’s true. But it’s what I’ve been born for…being Christ to others.

      Thank you for sharing that memory Mindy. It’s perfect for this post 🙂

  26. Wow… Good post. I still wear my game face, not as much as I used to, but I still do. Unfortunately in the world of business too many people mistake your kindness for weakness and the game face has to be worn until you get to know people.

    You certainly started my mind racing! I’ve been the bearer of bad news to so many people in my life… I sense a post stirring in me. Thanks for making me contemplate the issues that have an effect on our every day lives, Ceil. I think!

    • Hi Floyd! I just love it when reading someone’s post gives flower to ideas for my own. That’s God working in us I think!

      Good point about the business world. I know that I read all the time about people who are “successful and nice” too. Like it’s a rare thing. But I can see what you mean, and it seems that impression of kindness as weakness lives very strongly in the business world.

      I hope we can move, even slowly, toward kindness anyway!
      Have a good evening my friend 🙂

  27. I love this Ceil. Sometimes I put on my “game face” and often those are the moments I’m least proud of.

    As we grow closer to Christ we often let go of the “game face” and replace it with one of love and compassion.

    This is a lovely reminder Ceil.

    Thank you.

    • Hi Jennifer! I think you are right, it is a matter of growth. As I get older, I see less and less of a need to put on a Game Face. Even if I’m sad, that’s ok.

      But I know that our attitudes are so powerful. Just a smile to someone on the street can change that person’s whole day. Who wouldn’t want to be ‘in’ on that transformation?

      Thanks for visiting! It’s always good to see you 🙂

  28. I think Game Face comes on most often when we’re stressed. Sounds like the cashier and your ex boss were stressed. It’s a way to place a certain distance between us and the person we’re interacting with. But you’re right, Ceil; we’re really not created to be in Game Face mode. There’s that scripture that talks about us having unveiled faces before God. The Game Face is a veiled face because the real us is being hidden. Here’s to less Game Faces and more unveiled faces, Ceil!

    • Hi Ali! I think you’re right, it is stress or negative emotion that brings on the ‘Game Face’.

      I like your image of the unveiled face. Being transparent in our dealings with each other. Not spreading the negative, but trying really hard to see God in everything. That’s a message worth sharing.

      Thank you for visiting, reading two posts and commenting on both. I appreciate your encouragement 🙂

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