Thursday, October 16, 2008

Outside of Myself

He was a small boy, about my age and height.

Blue eyes.
Blond hair.
Big smile.
He loved playing with me, and we spent hours together nearly everyday. He liked the same foods I did, and always wanted to play my games. He'd even let me win.
We'd chat about everything. He was my closest friend.

His name was Dallas.

Ask my family about him and you'll probably receive a light nostalgic chuckle and a rolling of the eyes. You see, there's one more thing about Dallas I haven't told you--

He didn't exist.

Growing up, I always had imaginary friends. I was never in with the popular kids at church, and being home schooled, had mainly my siblings as schoolmates. My circle of friends was rather small. But my imagination was huge. If I wanted friends, I just created them.

Looking back, I see now that alot of my creation of friends was due to my somewhat shy and quiet nature. I struggled with talking to kids my own age. It was just hard for me.

I grew into adulthood and still talking to people was a struggle. Oh I was better at it, but my mind still went blank, and awkward silences reigned supreme in my conversations.

It wasn't until the Lord challenged me through my older sister that things started changing. "Talking to people is just a way of letting them know you care" she told me. This came from an also naturally shy person--she too has a quiet nature. But she had lived and traveled in the world enough to learn this was true. If I put my focus on caring about the other person, instead of how I felt, it made talking to them a bit easier. I learned to not just say I cared about those around me , but to genuinely care, to really want to draw them out and get to know them in a deeper way.

I still have my moments of shyness--I can be joking and chatting outwardly, but inwardly feel like the same terrified little girl who can barely lift her head up and acknowledge those around her for fear of disappointing--but this one thing I have learned: almost everyone is shy in one way or another. To open ourselves up to another person means vulnerability and trust. Being willing to fail or be failed. I may be shaking in my boots, but you know what? They probably are too. God calls us to go outside of ourselves, and our comfort zone. To reach out to people, regardless of how frightened we may feel. To focus on blessing them, and not on our pounding heart. My pastor often says "People aren't just looking for a friendly church--they're looking for a friend."

I want to be the kind of friend Solomon talked of--who sticks closer than a brother. I want to use my words to care for people.

Jesus did.

Who better to emulate?


Pam H. October 16, 2008 at 7:35 AM  

Some people (not a few, seems like) appear to want to smack someone who tries to show interest/caring, if they aren't already good at it. I don't know what to do with those people. (Maybe partly from living in too big a city? Maybe 3 million people is too many in one place - they seem to get defensive of one another.)

You can tell I'm shy, too, and also not good at talking. Which is one reason I blog.

Miss Deb October 16, 2008 at 8:46 AM  

Yes, I've had people act like that when I try to talk to them (sometimes it was a very one-sided conversation). But all I can do is try, and know that I've done what I could to reach out to them--how they take it and respond is their choice :)

Valerie October 16, 2008 at 1:45 PM  

Your pastor's observation is absolutely correct. These past few years I've seen that newcomers at our church may come and go, but the ones who stay are the ones who form close friendships. It makes me want to reach out to visitors all the more because I know that that's what I'd want if I was in their place.

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