Friday, January 16, 2009

smile and say hi

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.


Ken said...

I think its called "fear of first contact" I think we all go through ut at some point in our lives, I hope I have gotten over mine. But I wont know in till I have the chance to make that first contact.

Penless Thoughts said...

I think we have all been guilty of this. Sometimes I think it is just we are too busy and focused on us and what we are doing.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you could ever go wrong by saying hello...even if they think you're stupid, it's better than thinking you're rude. I do admit though, I've hidden behind a display in the grocery store on more than one occasion. Glad I'm not alone.

Christine said...

Probably everybody is guilty as charged but that doesn't make it right. I agree...say hello. Your son's old schoolmate may be doing the same thing.

Lisa said...

I am always the one who speaks up and reunites myself with lost friends. I am shy, but I make the effort, because I figure everyone else is worrying about how he or she is perceived.

One of my friends and I had a fight when we were 21 and 22. We never spoke again. I was 42 when I thought she was standing across from me in a store. I started the conversation and we are again friends. I am happy to have her back in my life.

I hope your son makes the overture.

barb said...

Interesting topic. I, too, have hesitated before saying hi.

I think it's always important to greet someone with a smile and hi. You never know how much they might need a smile that day.

A smile can open all kinds of doors.

Hope Jake does say hi next time.

Just Mom said...

Just give him time.

And yes, I've done that before too, thinking that the other person wouldn't know who the heck I am.

MightyMom said...

as there are no coincendences...except that of my terriblye speallong.

God put those two people who recognize each other there for a reason....and God's watching to see what they do.

In that circumstance I pray for guidance.

Karen said...

I do this, too, sometimes. Then I think how nice it is when someone recognizes me and takes the time to say hello. So I try to remember that when I'm given the opportunity to make the first move.

Melissa said...

I've done this before. That first step is sometimes a hard one. There's always an element of fear involved that I won't be recognized and then I'll feel like an idiot :) The funny thing is, they are probably feeling the same thing!