As an introvert, I tend to unintentionally shut people out. I’m that girl at the airport with her headphones in and nose in a book. I’m cordial but not overtly friendly. I’ll smile your way, but never initiate conversation. But the problem is that in doing so I miss the possibility of uplifting interactions.
Today I flew by myself for the first time in I don’t even know how long. Just me, managing only one bag, getting to take as much time as I’d like, wherever I’d like.
Even though it was an early flight, I found myself genuinely joyful as I checked in my bag. That was my first opportunity for interaction.
The woman weighing my suitcase (which initially read at 45 pounds despite a 40 pound limit) responded well as I offered to pull out a couple things while joking about my strategic method of packing and guesstimating the weight by trying to do an arm curl with the bag. Thankfully, it was in fact light enough (37 pounds- woo hoo!), it only needing to be shifted on the scale. She thanked me for my manner of handling the check in and said she wished more people would have my approach toward her. (I imagine that could be a challenging job. Anything associated with travel pretty much guarantees stressed out customers.)
I continued this approach with each person I encountered, from the TSA agent, to the clearly late passenger desperately trying to rush through the security scan (I let him go in front of be. Hopefully he made his flight). I got a coffee (my first white chocolate mocha of the season) and bagel (asiago…super delicious) and headed to wait at my gate. Thankfully I checked the board because my gate had changed.
As I looked for a seat at my new gate, I felt a nudging to do something I don’t typically do– engage someone in conversation. I found a single seat, directly next to someone (as opposed to the typical one seat spacing that most everyone complies by), and began a conversation.
Was it life-changing? Not that I’m aware of, but it did spur me on to continue this approach as I sat on the plane. The couple next to me was catching a connecting flight north to spend the holiday with family. The family across from me was full of firsts: the wife’s and son’s first time flying (he was excited, she was freaked out, both did great), as well as heading to Disney world for the first time to celebrate the son’s 5th birthday. The woman behind me was traveling with a precious little girl who ended up sleeping most of the flight (to the mother’s reprieve).
All of this was out of the ordinary for me, but I found that it wasn’t uncomfortable. In fact, it compounded the joy that I felt in my heart. I didn’t have any deep spiritual conversations or lead anyone to accept Jesus as their savior, but the brief interactions held great merit and importance nonetheless. You see, part of getting past the start and living in God’s will for your life is to live actively in the fruits of the spirit (Galatians. 5:22-23). That includes joy. It can be as simple as being friendly and kind to the people around you. It means looking up from your phone and engaging people.
As this becomes a habit, the joy and kindness behind to multiply. Being a follower of Jesus means loving people and I’m beginning to realize that while I may be kind to people and polite during interactions, I’m not being intentional about how I’m interacting with them.
I want to challenge you to have a conversation (even if extremely brief) with a stranger. Ask them some questions, be engaged, put your phone down for a few minutes. I think you may find yourself delightfully surprised at the refreshment it provides for your soul.