“She scares me,” the young lady said as she pointed to a name on the bible study sign-up sheet. I burst out laughing because the name belonged to a dear friend. This “scary” friend, bold in spirit with a heart as big as the size of Texas, talks with a delightful Tennessee twang making her seem a little rough around the edges. I could see how the young lady might be intimidated by my friend’s larger-than-life persona.
I started thinking about all the times we miss out on friendship opportunities because we perceive something different than reality. We shy away because the person seems busy, hateful, haughty or a myriad of other perceptions.
In all actuality, the quiet lady who sits to your left in worship may be insecure – not haughty. The young mom brushing past you in a hurry may be at the end of her momma rope with three little ones in tow. The shy girl who looks away when you catch her eye may be drowning in grief or depression.
The truth is we all come to the friendship table with hang ups and insecurities. We all have broken, raw places. It’s not easy to put ourselves out there but the Bible tells us in order to have friends, we must show ourselves friendly.
I grew up believing first impressions are lasting impressions – especially in the professional world; however, Christians should have a different view simply based on God’s reply to Samuel when seeking the new king of Israel.
“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
How about we start taking time to get to know the hearts belonging to all those new faces? What if we extend grace?
Everyone has a bad day and no one is immune to letting emotions slip in hasty replies. The beautiful lady dressed to the hilt with all the diamonds might be the most humble person in the room. The chatty girl may not be annoying once you get to know her and realize her infectious zeal for life.
Given the opportunity to engage my scary friend, the young lady soon fell in love with her. This experience encouraged me to take off my blinders of perception and be bold in showing myself friendly.
Why not be the one to step out and extend the hand of friendship? What do you have to lose? You never know what God has waiting for you on the other side of a friendly conversation.