I am truly amazed at what can happen when I remain open to meeting new people and having experiences. Without necessarily having to do anything on my part, I find that people seem to gravitate my direction, and tend to initiate conversation clear out of the blue.
Allow me to share an example: When I go to my exercise class, I have to park across the street from the studio. The parking lot is adjacent to a bank, and there is a security guard on duty every day. Each day, as I head to the studio, I notice him in my peripheral vision, but – as he usually is some distance away – our paths literally had not yet not crossed.
I was walking back from class the other day, and decided to venture closer to the bank. In doing so, I encountered the security guard. I smiled and planned to keep on walking, but he stopped and clearly wanted to chat.
He remarked how every day, he observed scores of people heading into the studio, and started talking with me about his own fitness regimen. We chatted for a few minutes about the importance of exercise in the aging process, and how important it is to do all that we can to counteract the normal wear and tear on the body.
Before I knew it, he was talking about his family. He shared that he was married, and had a youngish son at home. I could tell just by the way he talked about his family, that he loved his wife and son very much. In a poignant moment, he shared that he wanted to continue to be healthy and active as his son gets older, compared to some of his friends who seem to have just “given up”. He’s clearly has invested in his health so he can hopefully be around for his son – and his wife – for many years to come.
I marveled as I listened. I shared a few nuggets from my own life, but I generally just tried to listen. After ten or twelve minutes of conversation, I took a moment to ask the security guard for his name.
For the purposes of this blog, we’ll just call him Jonathan, and I’ll refer to myself as Daily. The following conversation ensued:
- Daily: “By the way, my name is Daily. What is your name?”
- Jonathan: “My name is Jonathan, but my friends call me Jon.”
- Daily: “Very nice to meet you. How would you prefer for me to address you?”
- Jonathan: “You can call me Jon. We’re friends now, Daily.”
I smiled, wished him well and went about my business. I wonder, though, how differently things might’ve turned out had I not bothered to be open to the conversation with Jon. I could’ve been like the others walking back to their vehicles – heads down, staring at their iPhones – but instead I made the decision to look up and greet Jon when he said hello (but let’s be clear – my iPhone was already out, too!).
So today, I am thankful for the ability to be open and inviting to people I may not necessarily know. Of course, I have to exercise wisdom, good judgment, and discretion, but in general I have decided to adopt an open and friendly demeanor when I meet people.
It’s a simple choice. Whether i’m at the grocery store or filling up at the gas station, I choose to be open with the people I meet. Doing so has led to some very interesting conversations! For instance, if a few weeks back, I was able to help a gas station owner better understand how to use his credit card processing machine; and last fall, I remember engaging in a particularly touching conversation with a cashier at the grocery store. He was really torn up about an issue with his pet. I simply asked him how he was doing, and with very little prompting, the story about his little doggy came to the surface. The man clearly loved his dog.
I would encourage you to be as open as wisdom and discernment permit, with people you may not know well. I’ve been amazed at the way that God has blessed me through the kindness of strangers; and in a few rare cases, these people have even become friends. You just don’t know where a conversation may lead!
So here’s my prayer for today: Dear Lord, thank You for the delightful conversation with Jon! I don’t know if he knows You ot not, but I was so touched by his heart for his wife and son, and his generally friendly demeanor. Thank You for his openness, and also for this report reminder that I should strive to be open with others, too. As it says in Hebrews 13:2 (NLT):
Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!
I also ask for Your guidance as I interact with people I don’t know. Give me your wisdom, and help me to understand when I should be wary and cautious, and when it is okay to be more engaging people I don’t know well. After all, I certainly don’t want to put myself in a potentially dangerous situation, either.
Help me to be winsome – yet wise – in a way that honors You in all circumstances. In Your name I pray, Amen.