Meeting People

Extravert is an adjective that has been used to describe me….the simplest definition I can think of to define “extravert” is someone who is outgoing and doesn’t meet a stranger. For many years I have tried to figure out if I was born that way or if I was raised that way. At 51 I have come to the conclusion that it is a combination of both. I love people and I love to meet new people and my dad is the same way. Since he raised me and has been an integral part of my life….today, many of the traits I have I know I learned from him.

Just the other night Collins and I were invited to a dinner party. We were in Sea Island, Georgia watching her boyfriend play in the SEC Championship for golf. A Georgia alumnus hosted a barbecue for parents and friends of the players. I thrive in these environments. Not only do I see it as an occasion to visit a lovely home but I have the opportunity to meet new people. I have tried to instill in my children how rich their lives become if they become other-oriented and seek to really get to know others.

The saying, “If you are talking, you aren’t learning,” is so true. I have learned from experience, and have tried to teach this skill to our kids, how to embrace a room of strangers and get to know people. I have encouraged them to take advantage of every opportunity to listen, ask questions, and learn. At mid-life I am still working on trying to remember names….that is still hard for me and something I really want to get better at. I am always amazed at people who remember names really well.

On with the story–the dinner host’s name was Jack. Jack lost his wife, Mary, several years ago. For the two years Collins played golf at UGA, she held the scholarship that was in Mary’s name. Collins’ boyfriend, Mike, held the scholarship that was in Jack’s name. We didn’t know them well and this was an opportunity for us to learn more about the Dinos’ family. We loved it, to say the least, and ended up having some one-on-one time with Mr. Dinos. He shared pictures of their lives together. Mary had an incredible artistic gift and he showed us all of her oil paintings. It was a rich and treasured time. Jack was an incredible host! And once again I loved the opportunity to be with one of our kids and together work on being “interested and learning about others.” Collins and I agree you always walk away with more than you bring.

Aimee, my dear friend for over 25 years, shared with us an incredible story of the same kind of thing….getting to know others! You see, Aimee was also at the SEC championship with her son, Will, who plays for the University of South Carolina. She told the story of walking up to a tent to buy refreshments and the man selling water told her to have a blessed day. She turned and kindly asked….”Are you a Christian?” He kindly responded, “Yes, can I share my story?” Aimee stopped and took the time to listen to him. He shared for the next 30 minutes his story of being a heroin addict. He spent four years in prison and then found he had a brain tumor. He showed her the huge scar on his head. He told of the incredible timing of becoming sick and stopping work because of his illness which stopped his income for the year. That in turn allowed him to get insurance to pay his medical bills. Otherwise, if he had worked a few days longer, his income for the year would have been too much and he would not have had insurance.

Then he shared how he gave his life to Christ. From Aimee’s words, his story was dramatic, compelling and encouraging. She walked away blessed, inspired and, most of all, encouraged by the power of Christ to change someone’s life. This man had recovered and his life took a major turn for the better. You see, his story was about how ADVERSITY had introduced him to himself. It had opened his eyes. It plumbed the depths of his heart. It had tested his strength and endurance and given him the eyes to see things he otherwise was too blind to see. The extreme adversity resulting from his poor choices were ultimately used by God to change his life…….and now he shares his story with complete strangers!

Two thoughts I would like to share. First, in God’s Word it tells us in Matthew 25:35, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was a STRANGER, and you welcomed me.” Sometimes, when you meet people/strangers, their need may not be literal food or water but maybe they need someone to listen or to befriend them. Or maybe to know you value them as a person and are interested in them as a person, welcoming the opportunity to get to know them. Choosing to be other-oriented….and being interested in others….can be like giving a drink to a “dehydrated and hurting person.”

Second, in Hebrews 13:1 it states, “Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by doing that some may have entertained angels without knowing it.” To me, showing hospitality doesn’t mean you have to have someone in your home. It may just mean giving them your time and interest in getting to know them. As I have learned…..most of the time, you walk away enriched and encouraged. And, who knows? You may have met an angel with out knowing it! :)))))

Whether or not the term extravert describes you, doesn’t mean you can’t be other-oriented and seek to get to know others. Ask the Lord to show you/give you opportunities to meet strangers or entertain angels without knowing it!

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