(Written for the Broomfield United Methodist Blog originally posted on April 29th, 2016)
She loved me within seconds. I’d never met this stranger before and I had no reason to believe she’d have more to say to me than a simple hello. But she seemed delighted in me. Her eyes looked straight into my heart. Then she held my face and said my name with the voice of an angel, “Theresa, a beautiful name and a beautiful person. Bless you.” The compassion and pure joy in her voice made time stand still. With one sentence and my face cupped in her hands, I felt like I had always known her.
I’d love to reveal that this angel of a woman was a famous celebrity but she wasn’t. I was having lunch with a local pastor a few days ago to introduce her to the work of El Porvenir, the clean water non-profit I work for. As I began talking about El Porvenir she recognized an elderly couple and stopped our conversation to introduce me to them. The wife asked me what I was sharing with the Pastor, so I explained “I work for an organization called El Porvenir. We partner with rural Nicaraguan families so that the poorest communities in Nicaragua have access to safe, clean water.” With conviction in her voice she repeated everything I said back to her husband, then she wrapped her arms around me and said, “that is beautiful, you are beautiful, how wonderful, Bless you, God bless you.” We talked for total of 8 minutes, the entire time this gracious lady was encouraging me and blessing me.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS ENCOUNTER THAT HAS WRECKED ME?
This stranger was so delighted in me that I didn’t know where I was. If she hadn’t been so genuine it would have been awkward but it wasn’t. Most the time, when I meet people, if they seem too interested in me I get kind of creeped out. But the loving soul of this stranger has convicted me. The truth is I can’t say I often take the opportunity to delight in people, especially people I’ve never met before.
When I meet people it usually goes down like this…
1. “Hey nice to meet you”, polite hand shake, then small talk “jeesh this weather is crazy right”, we go our separate way within a few minutes of being introduced with no expectation of ever having to talk to one another again. Phew, so glad that wasn’t awkward.
2. A friend introduces me to someone for the first time. While they talk I study new person’s vibe. Does new person seem friendly, are they funny, what are they about, what do they do, etc.? So many questions, so little time.
3. I meet someone new and we hit it off. Conversation is flowing easily, in fact, I’ve wanted to meet this person and I’m happy we’ve finally been introduced. We say we would love to hang out sometime but then we never get around to it.
4. Stranger says hi to me, I say hi back, we both nod and walk away.