Coming from someone who can be awfully shy, it’s amazing how much of a difference it makes when the person I’m talking to speaks from a place of Christ-given joy.
Like, I’m sure, many others, I love social interaction. After all, God made us to live in community with each other. There are few things I enjoy more than nice, fulfilling conversation with some of my closest Christian friends.
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.
Matthew 18:20 (ESV)
However, the idea of meeting someone new terrifies me.
For some reason, though I can be an extremely talkative person, if I am expected to start a conversation with someone new, the words just don’t flow.
Recently, a girl from a campus group at my college invited me to coffee. I accepted the invite—mostly because I couldn’t find an honest way out of it, admittedly—and walked up to Starbucks that day, heart pounding, already longing for the obligatory one hour of small talk to be over.
We ordered our drinks, sat at a tiny table near a window, and then came the questions about “how college is for me” and “how classes are” and other standard conversation-starters when talking to a first-semester college freshman. Eventually the conversation shifted into something a bit less cliché and a little more real.
But here’s the kicker—as we started talking, yes, even about the general, stereotypical go-to topics for new college students, I found myself enjoying it more and more. The conversation flowed, I lost the nervous edge I’d walked into the meeting with, and oddly enough I found myself not wanting the coffee meeting to end.
Why the sudden shift in attitude?
My coffee friend spoke with me from a place of sincere joy and love. She genuinely wanted to know how things were going for me, no strings attached. She was so positive, so uplifting, so very joyful that it would have been near impossible for me to not enjoy that coffee meeting.
I walked away from Starbucks that day with a smile on my face and a genuine joy in my heart, ready to tackle anything—seriously, I’m not kidding when I say that my entire outlook on the rest of the day shifted for the better—and all because my coffee friend decided to open herself up to a shy college freshman.
I know a few people like that. People who are so clearly followers of Jesus that it overflows in all the conversations they have. People whose sincerity and selflessness I would never think to question.
People who smile, the kind that you can tell isn’t just plastered on for show but is rather a smile from the soul, a smile that screams “You can’t take this joy from me because it’s stored up in heaven above!”
These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
John 15:11 (NASB)
People who would never have made an impact on me if they’d decided to keep the joy of Christ to themselves, as I’m so tempted to do.
To brighten someone’s day, all it takes is unleashing that pent-up joy that all followers of Christ have, and striking up a conversation. We never know what that person might be going through and how much a simple, sincere “How are you?” can lighten their mood.
But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Peter 2:9 (NLT)
I know as much as the next person how hard it can be to walk up to someone—especially someone we don’t know—and start a conversation. But I’m working on getting better at that, day by day, conversation by conversation. All it takes it a smile and a simple “hello.”
After all, if we have the wonderful joy that comes from Christ living within us, why not share it with everyone we come across? Doing so might make more of an impact than we could ever imagine.
Kayla Johansen – Road Less Traveled