In an attempt to work on #4 on my 50 Before 50 - Learn to Be a Friendly Neighbor, I've been thinking a lot about friendliness, being a friend, and who is my neighbor. The other day I had a very random craving for Pop Tarts, something I haven't eaten for probably 5 years. When a random craving comes I indulge, because...why not? A girl should be allowed to eat Pop Tarts once every 5 years right??? So I got up from my desk, put my coat on, and walked up the hill to the mini mart and bought some. It was a misty morning and on my way back to work, while standing at the busy street corner waiting for the walk sign to blink my way, a woman walked up and stood beside me. Now...I literally caught myself looking up at her, smiling, and looking away. I immediately turned to her and said. "It's a lovely day for walking...just enough mist to be refreshing, not enough to soak a person." She laughed and the conversation went from there. We walked a block together talking. After she turned away to her destination, I took stock. My thoughts...That was a pleasant interlude in the day. My next thought...I will likely never see her again. So why did I need to be friendly to her? This interaction impacted me, and I'm sure it did her as well. Just the act of talking in a friendly way was encouraging. It lifted my spirits and made me smile. Pushing myself to reach out to a complete stranger with just a few kind words helped me to understand why Timothy talks to everyone he sees. Viewing these types of interactions as an opportunity to encourage and lift the spirits of not just them but even of myself motivates me.
The problem...it doesn't always go well. We've all spoken before thinking, and I'm sure have been the recipient of this as well. So often our intentions are right, but what comes out of our mouths doesn't come across as we intend it. The other day I was standing with a woman at church, she has stage 4 cancer and said something that threw me. "I know I'm terminal..." I don't even remember why this came up in this way, but I stammered and didn't know what to say so I said the dumbest of things... "We all are terminal." ACH! I sometimes wish I had a zipper on my lips. I can go on and on with examples of how I've said stupid things.
A number of years ago a co-worker of Timothy's asked him to be a groomsmen in his wedding. With this honor came many social get togethers and so on. The couple invited us to their new house with the rest of the wedding party. As it turned out everyone else knew each other, and frankly were probably 12 years younger than us, and in very different stages in life. So the guys went upstairs to the game room...a place with two huge t.v.'s side by side and a cool place where several could play video games together. That left the bride and her closest friends...and me...painfully out of place. At one point she said something to the effect of "Let's go upstairs I want to show you something" then she very politely turned to me and said: "Jeanne, I'm sorry, I don't quite know what to do with you." I smiled and said: "I'll be just fine right here." Can you say AWKWARD!!! Her intent was kind, but it was obvious I was pretty much in the way.
I know that I will not execute each interaction perfectly...nor will the other person...grace and honesty will need to rule in those moments. But as I step out of my comfort zone and concertedly try to encourage those God so graciously brings into my life, I will push myself to see each person with eternal eyes, and each opportunity as given by God. Lord may I be more like You! J.