Those who have known me personally for very long know that I am a very shy person by nature. On top of that, certain unfortunate events in my past made me feel for many years, not only bashful, but timid or ashamed to look at people.
God has changed that. Well, I should probably say “is changing” that. He has brought me a long way.
The Lord confirms to me that my worth is not proven by what others may do to me; rather, it is proven by what He has done for me.
Do not even the publicans so?
I have been trying to learn from others who have better “people-skills” than I naturally have, too. And I’m learning a lot. [If you would like to read some great advice, check out my new Pinterest board The Art of Conversation. Disclaimer: Not all of these articles are from Christian sites and may say things in a way I would not quite agree with; however, the messages helped me enough that I thought them worth sharing in spite of that.]
I have been considering Matthew 5:47:
And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so?
That is one thing the Lord has worked with me on over the years — being fully willing to greet strangers. He has helped me to kindly, confidently look their way long enough to actually catch their eyes, too, and nod with a smile. If the situation is right, I even say “hello” and am learning to start a conversation. (Imagine that!)
Now, I certainly don’t profess to be a master conversationalist, but I am learning to converse comfortably, at least, with people I don’t know very well.
Bashful or busy…
But another situation has been challenging me lately. What do I do when I encounter someone who is like I was: they simply will not look your way. They make a point to look anywhere else, but at people.
I know what I want to try. When I was habitually looking elsewhere, it was not because I did not want to be recognized necessarily. It was more because I did not feel worthy to be.
Every once in a while, somebody would come along with a beautiful, glowing confidence and say “hello” anyway. If they must talk to the side of my head, they would still say hello.
You know what? I would look. At least for a second. And I would say “hi.”
And I would feel like I was welcome there.
I would feel just a sliver less ashamed.
But I’ve also noticed that sometimes people are just momentarily distracted… or they think you’re too busy… or they’re just having a bad day… or…. God knows, right?
So my idea is simply this: When I look to catch a person’s attention and they are not looking my way, if I am close enough… say “hi” anyway!
Now, for some of you extreme extroverts, I know that is going to sound a little, um, shall I say… “obvious.”
But for those of you out there who can use a little push, I hope you will take this challenge with me. You know where you are at. Take a step towards greater friendliness.
After all, how will we ever reach the world if we refuse to talk to them?
Sure, there are the “behind-the-scenes” jobs — and those are very important, too — but what about that person to whom your life experiences are the perfect fit for healing? Or the one to whom your knowledge of Scripture is the perfect fit to fill in their blanks?
They are out there. Trust me. Since I have been more willing to prayerfully be on the lookout, the Lord has graciously brought people and opportunities my way. And I trust that even those momentary encounters at the grocery store are not without fruit.
I love passing by someone, sharing a smile, and seeing their face bloom into a genuine smile, too! It brings joy to me — it’s got to be bringing joy to them, too! What if that encounter is what they needed to have courage to press on one more day?
We just never know.
This is a small thing, but it is the clear instructions of Christ.
Don’t just single out your friends. Reach out. Then reach a little farther! For in so doing, you will be on your way to fulfilling the command:
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
And He is sure to bless.
Do you have an experience to share? Maybe you were the enthusiastic greeter… or maybe you were the bashful or busy one. 😉 Tell us about it in the comments!