Here’s the scene: I’m at the stove in the kitchen, stirring up some grub for a crowd, and from the corner of my eye I observe the people gathered in the dining area. Most of them know each other, but there is a smattering of odd men out…people who are unconnected to the rest. We often invite new people to our family/friend dinner gatherings. It keeps the air fresh and new in our house. If the person is timid, or introverted by nature, I can almost always count on one of my family making sure they are not left alone and uncomfortable. I do love this about my clan.
My son, John, is particularly gifted with people. Most people feel at ease around John, especially new people. It’s always been that way. He has a way of perceiving people’s needs, and not flailing around to fulfill them, but quietly he enters their space and lets them know he is safe. My classic image of John is sitting on a chair, amid a crowd of people, leaning in toward someone else, in deep, friendly conversation, a laugh and a nod punctuating now and again.
Someone asked me once what made John so interesting that everyone wanted to be his friend. My answer:
Interesting people are interested people.
John is blessed to have a natural instinct that makes him extremely interested in people…in what makes them tick, in what they like to do, and where they have been, and where they’d like to go. He is not playing a part; he really is interested.
Sometimes, when I’m forced to be in a place where I don’t know people, and I’m kind of intimidated, I simply remind myself that interesting people are interested. That's how conversation begins. Most people are willing to talk about themselves, if asked sincerely. Most people, unless they are real grumps (and there are some out there…but relatively few) are willing to share some of themselves, if the person asking is sincerely interested. I think what makes John look so popular in a group is not that he knows how to flit around the way teenagers think popular people do, but that he knows how to find one person, and be interested. His gifts are not so much that he knows what to say, though he is talented in that, too. It is that he knows how to listen.
|John is particularly interested in his fabulous wife, Ashley!|
My HOPE is that I remember to forget myself when I am in the company of other people, at least to consider that my opportunity to be with other humans is a treasure box waiting to be opened. My interest in what is inside that box not only makes the experience personally pleasing, the by-product may be that it makes me seem interesting too. Win/Win.
During the season of Lent I make the personal commitment to write every day. I’ve done this for the past eight years, as a token of devotion and thanks to the Lord for giving me a brain that works (usually). I publish these writings here on my blog, unedited and splattered like wet paint, as a way to share them and to keep them for myself and for my posterity. This year I have decided to ruminate on thoughts, ideas, habits and miscellaneous personal practices I would like to put in a figurative HOPE CHEST to take with me into the rest of my life and the life beyond. Besides that, there are bits of advice I would like to tuck into the HOPE CHESTS of my kids and grandkids.