Mine usually are. I had a pretty cool conversation the other day with a friend that provided some really crucial feedback about how I deal with other people, especially people I don't know very well. I know my tendencies to a T. I don't look at strangers as people that I can talk to and should get to know, but as parts of the setting in which I'm living my life, taking care of my business. I'm usually surprised or taken aback when people around me just start talking to me, because I certainly hadn't been considering talking to them. I don't always put much effort or interest into these encounters because I'm afraid of saying something dumb or coming off as a weirdo. (Ironically, I probably seem even weirder when I kind of back out of getting to know someone better when standing in line or sitting in class, haha.) I don't know why, but that's the way my little cogs are aligned; I'm pretty goal-oriented when I'm not in a place where I have the intention of being a little chatterbox.
This, however, has poisoned chances that I've had to make friends in various places. I can think of several times that I'd kind of talked to someone in my class and never bothered asking them what kinds of things they like to do and if they wanted to hang out sometime. I can picture faces, for crying out loud. I just don't approach classmates, neighbors, and other people like that, mentally.
Why on earth don't I try to be friendly?!
If there's one thing that has been confirmed for me over and over again, from Atlanta to today at school, it's that God uses little moments like those to plant seeds in other people -- and he uses us to do it. I am thinking about my friend with whom I am co-leading a bible study. She got connected into Cru through my other friend, and they met in an American History classroom just sitting next to one another. They couldn't have known off the bat that the other was a believer, that one needed community and the other could offer it. It had to have taken the initiative to befriend a person who just happened to be right there, and invest time and love into them. And that's what I really want to learn to do. I want to see people around me as fellow human beings, who all want to be accepted and loved despite their quirks and flaws, and that very few in this world genuinely don't want to hear someone they don't know say hi and smile.
So this morning I prayed that God would give me his eyes. (Yeah, Brandon Heath, I stole your lyrics. Sorry, dude.) I prayed that I'd see this world the way he does, with a purpose in mind for people, and with the belief that they're searching for him, often in all the wrong places. I was afraid that this prayer would force me out of my comfort zone almost immediately, but you know, a little dose of healthy fear is a good thing, right?
Sitting in my Microeconomics class, I was between two girls. One looked at the syllabus and panicked a little, saying she was a freshman and that she didn't know if she'd do well in this class, and that she might need some help. The other, before class started, turned to me and introduced herself, saying she was a Cuban-American and a transfer student and didn't know anyone, and asked if she could have my number.
All I did was pray that the Lord open my eyes to what's going on around me, and this is what I see already. Prayer. That thing that I once did right before going to bed, to ask for more money or for God to fix my problems lickity-split. That prayer. It's insane when I think about how often the Lord does answer prayer, and I just look in the wrong direction or on the wrong channel to find what he's saying to me. I read an article this morning on Boundless that I really liked (and you should read it too!), and this is the scripture that accompanied:
"The Lord said, 'Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.' Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper." 1 Kings 19:11-12
So many of us ask for grandiose signs from God when we ask for an answer to a prayer, so that we may not miss it. However, I'm willing to bet that the lesson is not in asking for signs, but asking to have the discernment and wisdom not to need them, but merely understand the Lord's heart. Every day, I am embarking again on the journey to growing nearer to the Lord, and perhaps with every new experience and every year, I am that much more aware of how his Kingdom is here and now. Things are going on. It's up to me to keep my eyes open and continue asking him to help me remain awake.
Only then will I remember to praise him when I see his hand in seating me in the second row of that one room in that one building for that one class, and thank him for sustaining me no matter where he takes me next.