Friends…aren’t they a blessing?! As in the picture above, friends greet one another. They’re happy to be together and they brighten the countenance and the day of their friend.
But what about that person who just entered your presence and isn’t your friend? They’re just near you. They are an outsider. You don’t know their name, or maybe you met them once but you don’t remember their name. You feel awkward, so you busy yourself with your head in the bottomless pit of your purse and pretend they aren’t there. We’ve all felt the need to reach out, and probably also the aversion to it.
Let’s put oursevles in the shoes of the other peson. She’s new to the situation – maybe at church, Bible study, or a socal gathering, and has “put herself out there” to attend, even though she doesn’t know many that will be there. She’s trying to act comfortable, looking up at the surroundings, pretending she’s engrossed in her thoughts while people and conversation buzz around her. She will either leave this gathering happy that she’s gained a new friend, or she will be glad for the safety of her car where she can retreat to the comfort of the familiar, even though it’s also a solitary place.
Proverbs 18:24 – A man that has friends must show himself friendly
We read this command in Proverbs and we may consider ourselves friendly because we conjure up the memories of laughter and constant chatter we had with our current friends just recently. But I believe that if we’re going to say we’re obeying this verse, we need to realize that this is a constant state of reaching out to others – others whom we bump into in the grocery store, at the ballgame, in our small group or the pew behind us at church. People need you and me to show friendliness from our heart. How can we do that even if we’re introverts who would rather not be noticed (because this admonition isn’t just for extroverts!)?
- Look up. Self-focused people keep their heads down so they can avoid looking at people. Look in their eyes. Make eye contact.
- Smile. A smile is the universal language that says, “I see you. I’m glad you’re here.”
- Use words. Get a statement that you can genuinely say when you greet someone you don’t know. “Hi! I’m Denise. Have you visited before?” Or, “Hi! I’m Denise, and you are? I’m so happy to meet you!” Get a conversation started by showing interest in them. You don’t have to grill them, but pull them in. Talk about how cute her hair cut is, or how adorable her children are, or that you see she’s got a Dunkin donuts coffee cup and you love coffee, too!
This past Sunday my husband and I were visiting a church in New Hampshire. A sweet reader of my blog attends that church (unbeknownst to me). She walked up to us and welcomed us to their church and then told me she reads my blog. What a sweet way to make a connection! I didn’t feel as much like a stranger after meeting her (Thank you, Janet!). That’s the kind of connection we can make even to people we don’t know!
We all like having friends, but we need to stop and really consider if we’re good at being friendly. Reach outside your circle and pull others in and then enjoy the growth of your friendship community! You will have made someone else sigh because they didn’t have to experience the awkwardness of being on the outside.
Can you relate to the awkwardness of being on the outside? What do you do to make others feel welcome into your life?