Jake told me last night (through text messages), that in one of the classes he's a learning assistant for, there's a kid he was once friends with in elementary school. In fact, very good friends. The two of them would occasionally go over to each other's homes to play and they invited each other to their birthday parties. They were in the same class for many years. But after they finished fifth grade, they went on to different middle schools and never saw each other again - until yesterday, in a freshman college class.
So I asked him what this kid's response was when he realized who Jake was and Jake's response was, "oh, I didn't say anything." What? I asked him why not and if he was planning to say something like, "hi, remember me, I'm Jake Varey." His response to me was, "no, I'm not planning on saying anything unless he says something to me first."
Although I think I would say something if I were in his shoes, I can kinda understand where he's coming from. In the past two days I've had situations where I've come into proximity of people I knew but didn't feel comfortable enough or it necessary for me to greet or instigate a conversation with.
The first situation was a neighbor and someone we used to go to church with. I only know the couple very casually and I wasn't sure they would truly recognize me, so I actually did my best to avoid them in the store. We ended up at the cashier at the same time but they never looked my way so I didn't speak up.
The second situation was a mother and sister of a kid from youth group in which I'm very close to. I know the mother well enough and have spoken to her countless times over the years, but I felt hesitant to call out her name and engage in a conversation. I think I felt guilty because she had surgery a few months back and I never followed up to see how she was doing or if I could help in any way. She ended up seeing me and we did have a short conversation before both of us headed into the same theater.
So, I know there's times when we don't want to make that first step in greeting someone or to see them at all, but I'm questioning whether that is good, or even right. God wants us to love our neighbors, and that doesn't just mean those who live in our neighborhood. How can we do that if we don't allow ourselves to be open and available to others?
If Jake doesn't ever take that first step of saying hi with an old classmate, how will he ever know what may lie beyond; what kind of relationship he and this old acquaintance could have, how his life may be enriched, or how he might minister to another person. It means that there are times when we have to step out of our comfort zone but knowing that there's a chance that we may be blessed by doing so, or that we may bless someone else.
These are just my thoughts on the subject. I'd love to hear yours.