Relationship – This has been a key word in my world for the past few months, something God is teaching me. Friends are not something I lack, wonderful people with whom God has crossed my path. But intentionally getting to know them and pour into their lives, well, that is something altogether different.
None of us “clicks” with everyone, but I don’t believe God brings people across our path by accident. Throughout the past few months, I have started to look intentionally at what God is doing in that regard and engaging in those people. It is a challenge for those of us who are introverts, but my goodness the blessings that come from it.
I started not long after we arrived at our new duty station. I had people I already knew that were here and knew others would come across my path in our time here. Walking in with the intention of looking for those people has been helpful. As an introvert, I operate very well with people I don’t know or in large group settings when I have a purpose. Deciding to intentionally engage people gave me that purpose. It changed my outlook from wall-flower trying to figure out what to say to someone I have never met to a real-life conversation that gave me an introduction to who they are.
What does this look like in reality? Let’s just say it comes in many forms. Amazingly enough, as I talk to God about it and look for what He is doing, He brings people into my path and gives me ideas and words to say. Okay, sometimes I have too many words and sometimes they are goofy words, but I have found that people are gracious…and I am thankful.
Here is what I have done. My children met some other children just out our backdoor. I stood on my driveway and debated on going anywhere. I could see them from where I was, no need to be on top of them. BUT the other mom was out with them and then another mom showed up too. God gave me a push…I walked across the couple of yards and met the ladies. Two very sweet ladies. Lesson 1: Sometimes you have to do what scares you.
What else? We have had folks for dinner. This is hugely helpful. I don’t mind cooking and the environment is more relaxed than a restaurant. Our children can also enjoy some play time and conversation is always interesting. We have chosen to invite some people we don’t know so well or have maybe just met. The casualness of it and the ability for me to still stay in my comfort zone (my turf) is great. By the way, our turf has extended to our travel trailer. We have had friends go camping with us also…and they still like us (miraculous). Lesson 2: Invite people to your own turf.
Meeting someone at odd times, on purpose has worked as well. During my run the other day, I stopped at one of my new friend’s houses and we sat and chatted for a bit before I ran back home. I also stopped in at another new friend’s place of work. It was a retail store and, yes, I did buy something so I didn’t take up her time at work too much. Lesson 3: Meetings and conversations don’t have to happen over meals or coffee.
Lastly, I have gained a mentor. This is not something I had done before, but I meet with a wonderfully sweet lady periodically as she listens to the craziness that is my life, shares about hers, and then gives some objective thoughts on it all. It has been a good one-on-one time with a purpose, developing a relationship and focusing on Jesus – awesome, right? There is always someone around you who can mentor you. Remember that sometimes age is not the determining factor. Mentors come in all shapes and sizes…and they can be a huge blessing. Lesson 4: Mentors.
I know extroverts can sometimes find friendships and build relationship much easier than us introverts, but they have their challenges, too. It’s not about how many people you know, but about how well you know people. God has intentionally brought many across our paths. We need to intentionally engage with them, build true friendships, and see what God has in store. It is always a surprise – and you never know what you might learn in the process.