I was hanging out with some people today who, in my everyday life, I probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to get to know. However, a specific circumstance has brought them to our church, The Port, and I am finding myself so thankful for their willingness to share their stories. Their presence alone each Sunday reminds me that though we come in different packages we are all so alike. Hurting. Broken. Fighting back. After listening to a few of their stories today, my mind is buzzing. I am mentally lobbing ideas back and forth: from my intellect to my heart; from simple questions to deep wisdom; from detailed, personal stories to a broader, more encompassing picture of the world.
When I am feeling brave, I will often start what some might call ‘deep’ conversation with those around me. I’m not really sure why, but there seems to me so much to discover, uncover, understand. Why not skip past the surface appetizer and dive into the meat? I don’t do that with everyone I converse with (at least I hope I show a little discretion), but if the time and situation allows, and I have some genuine questions for my company, I really enjoy learning about other people’s perspectives and life experiences. So few of us are an open book, and yet, many of us long to tell our story.
EVERYONE has a story, and often it’s NOT what you’d think. I can’t tell you the number of people who have shocked me as they share their story of survival and endurance barely looking the worse for wear. Or, there are those who reveal their story only in part, wearing hard expressions, tattoo ink, and sporting visible vices. Appearances can be deceiving… or revealing. However if we never stop and take the time to listen, to dig deeper, to move past appearance and dive into another person’s story, we will continue to make quick judgements, and ultimately limit our exposure and connectedness to one another.
So I ask myself: why am I so prone to huddle to the familiar, and be afraid of the unknown? The way I see it, or have come to understand of my own behavior (when being brutally honest with myself), I am often shopping for conversation, or worse, for people, the way I would shop for a car. Does it suit my needs, do I love the colour, is it clean and well taken care, does it have minimal scratches and dents, with low mileage and a few bells and whistles for fun? To turn the analogy personal, if someone we meet isn’t appealing, relatable or doesn’t feel comfortable to be around, we often move on. However, some of my best conversations and ‘light bulb’ moments have happened while listening and interacting with someone I thought I had ‘worked out’, judged and cataloged. However once I am exposed to their story they act as a conduit of understanding or acceptance. I walk away knowing more about myself, and the common humanity that we share.
So what of it? Perhaps not all of us are afforded the opportunity to push past our bias and connect with an unlikely match. If you are similar to me, you may have a tendency toward introversion or be quite sensitive and take on too much so you might purposefully avoid the exact conversations I am talking about. But if there is one thing that I have learned about these interactions that bears repeating: It’s worth it! When we push past the fear, push past the judgement and take a moment to discover another person’s story we are changed for the better. Like it, or not, we are all connected and share something in common: this journey called ‘Life’.
Everyone has a story. What’s yours?
Becoming Ordinary: Day 340