Are you open to new friends? I mean really open! I was once at a weekend leadership meeting with an open discussion going on about how to reach out to other believers around us. I was pointing out how lonely the Christian life can be in the circle of people I belonged to at the time. I shared a few examples of situations I had been involved in and how they demonstrated the point I was trying to make. This was a number of years ago. A particular person replied to my examples with defensive comments which I was ok with – that was the purpose of the discussion. However, I was immediately offended when this “leader” in our midst replied with the line “Well, I don’t really need anymore friends.” If the shock didn’t register on my face it was probably because my entire brain froze. What Christian FEELS that way – much less admits it OUT LOUD to someone expressing their feelings of unfriendliness in their midst? IGNORANT!!! To this day I cannot look at that person the same way. To be honest with you I wasn’t really looking for this particular individual person to BE my friend. I sure don’t want them as one now!!
After that experience I try to remain aware of the kind of air I put off. Do I give others the impression that I WANT to be their friend or the impression that “I don’t need any new friends”? I admit that I am difficult to get to know. Honestly, I probably come across as standoffish because I am quiet (believe it or not) and can be shy (yes, it’s true). I try to smile regularly. I stick close to Ron a lot in group settings because I don’t really have much of a go-getter personality. But I sure don’t feel like I don’t need any new friends. I don’t have a Type-A personality. I generally sit alone and wait for someone to approach me first. That is my personality. I am awkward in social situations. I have a tendency to stay with those I already know. I am often exhausted and find it a lot of mental energy to strike up and hold a conversation with a stranger. But I CAN smile. And if someone approaches me I CAN make chit-chat. And I would NEVER say to someone “I’m sorry, I don’t really need anymore friends”. I’m just not that rude. I have been in situations where I am in a room full of people who know me and noone speaks to me – which is one of the situations I was referring to in this meeting.
While it is uncomfortable and out of character for me to speak first to a stranger I do have to make a conscious effort to force myself out of my shell. I probably don’t do it enough. We should all remember to look at ourselves from the strangers perspective around us. How hard is it really to smile and say “Hi, my name is Pam”? I am gonna work on that because I surely don’t wanna give off the air of arrogance that was displayed to us in that meeting that day – among people who already knew each other. I was raised better than that. Apparently this person wasn’t. Shame on his parents for dropping the ball and shame on him for not recognizing it and correcting it.
So, “Hi, my name is Pam”……..