Letting Your Lil Light Shine | day 14: start a conversation
Have you ever heard the stories of people that witness to complete strangers? They meet someone on an airplane or in line at the grocery store. They start with a friendly observation (It sure has gotten cold these last few days!) or a question (Where are you flying to?) or maybe an offer to help. Then somehow the conversation leads somewhere positive. Either a direct sharing of faith, or maybe a subtle glimpse into the Light.
I've always marveled at (and perhaps envied) these experiences. Namely because starting conversations with strangers is so far out of my comfort zone. It can feel awkward and even saying the first word goes through my mind for what feels like eternity before (if) ever coming out of my mouth.
But in efforts of becoming more Christ-like, and letting His light shine through me, I believe He wants me to do this more. Every person He met was a stranger. Even the people He called to be His best friends and peer support in His ministry were strangers when He first invited them. And that first conversation was essential.
Sometimes it was someone approaching Him to ask for help. (My daughter is sick! I can't see!) Which, quite frankly, is comforting to me, because I can easily respond when someone else starts a conversation. Other times He approached people with words of life or request for help. (I'm coming to stay at your house.)
I am sitting in an airport, waiting for my return flight from The Influence Conference (on my birthday, but who's keeping track?). It was a bit of a whirlwind of introductions and seminars and first-time-in-real-life conversations and building new friendships.
As a reserved introvert, I felt the struggle. The struggle of starting conversations. (I started very few.) The struggle of keeping a smile even when I felt overwhelmed and exhausted. (My eyes start darting at this point.) Keeping conversations going after the initial introduction. (My mind freezes.)
But the end result of putting forth the effort to connect with strangers (going to this conference was my effort in starting conversations)... so worth it. It's irreplaceable what results from meeting someone new. The relationship and support. (Like when Jesus called His disciples.) The opportunity to receive help from a new writing friend. (Like when Jesus stayed with people throughout his ministry.) Even the open doors to offer support to others. (Like when Jesus healed and taught and loved.)
Starting conversations are every bit worth the effort for Jesus, whatever the result may be. It's a small step in following the Spirit's lead to let our lights shine.
My brother, Nick, can be a bit of an introvert and a little more of a lone-worker/lone-thinker like me. Especially when we were in our teens, there was a time when we really related with each other on not feeling outgoing. Unlike me, my brother really broke through this. He branched out and pushed himself passed the discomfort. He challenged himself to be friendly. I observed as he engaged people in conversation, and how positively they responded as they felt heard and valued.
I asked my brother how he lets his light shine, and especially how he pushed himself passed a bit of shyness and introversion to let Christ's light shine.
This is Nick's response...
met Jesus personally that everything changed. It wasn't until I changed my focus from doing and understanding the right things to spending time and pursuing Jesus that the fire of faith began to burn in my life.
Knowing Jesus actually gives me a light to share.
Specifically in my life this includes:
> Leading out in a Community Garden project at our local church.
> Sponsoring several kids abroad and encouraging others to get involved.
> Teaching and mentoring 5-8th grade students at a week long Outdoor School 3-weeks per year.
> Drastically changing our families lifestyle by selling 95% of our possessions and living in a 1966 Airstream travel trailer to both be an example of intentional stewardship and to have the time and resources to do what matters. (More on this at our blog: LivinLightly.com)
> Walking through whatever other doors God opens.
In my late teenage years I experienced a bit of shyness and would not have started a conversation with a stranger.
Those who knew me in high school would not categorize me as shy but my late onset of people aversion came with a series of events...getting laid off from my “steady” job, jilted love, followed by depression and a severe case of acne. All this led to a perfect storm of low self-worth and the belief that people didn't like me. So I avoided people.
Without going into all the details of my exodus from depression, I eventually came to the realization that people are like mirrors and are just a mere reflection of your own thoughts, feelings and actions. (Yes, there are exceptions to this rule.) I began to come to a new paradigm where I was responsible for my own happiness.
Today, I try and emulate what I want to see. I appreciate it when people take the time to get to know me - without an agenda. So when talking with strangers I try and be what I want to see and take a genuine interest in them without an agenda. It also helps to see others as a child of God, even if they look like the devil. <<