During our worship service yesterday, Rector Cheryl asked us to consider what fears keep us from generously sharing our gifts with others; not only our monetary possessions, but our other gifts of kindness,talent, support or friendship.
We moved to West Virginia a month ago.This morning as I walked, I was thinking of- and missing- my Toledo friends. Rector Cheryl’s suggestion came to me… what fears keep me from blessing someone with a new friendship? My fear is that I will not make a good initial impression. I worry that I will appear foolish or may even be snubbed in some way. Once friendships are established, I feel very comfortable and open, but those initial encounters are challenging! I feel very inadequate. Will I say the right things? Is my appearance acceptable? How do I begin conversations? Does this person even want a new friend? I have had this inadequate feeling quite often since our move- almost everyone is someone new!
My walking loop passes an assisted living facility. Today a gentleman was outside the entrance, sitting on a glider, quietly observing the hilltop view. We simply exchanged “good morning” greetings, but after I passed him, I wondered if he might be lonely, too. I reminded myself, “If I am to make friends, I need to actually MEET people!” I decided to loop by the facility one more time, and if he was still there, I would somehow introduce myself. I hoped that he would be blessed as much as I would. Of course, I immediately became concerned that I would appear foolish, or even a bit crazy or threatening to this elderly man.
This time, the gentleman had a friend with him; he didn’t appear lonely at all. But I began with a greeting about how lovely the morning was. When they responded in a friendly way, I just blurted out my ‘friendship inadequacy’ openly: “I know this sounds silly, but I just moved here and I don’t have many friends. May I introduce myself so we can at least say ‘hello’ when I come by?” And so I met Bill and Jack! (The people in West Virginia have a wonderfully warm way of softly saying vowels, and so I was thankful that I paused and thought for a moment before responding, “Hi BAIL”!)
Who knows if I will see them again. But I was so exuberant that my honest, flawed words and my need for friendship enabled me to meet these folks, and so I joyfully played the air guitar on my walk home. I wonder if these men are puzzled by my introduction. I wonder if those who may have observed my “guitar playing” are certain I’m crazy. But maybe, just maybe, I brightened someone’s day.
May fear never prevent us from sharing our gifts with others. May fear especially never prevent us from sharing our honest, faulty, hesitant, and inadequate selves with others. Perhaps our example might actually bless someone (like me) with a new, needed, honest, accepting, and welcoming friendship. We are better together.