Stepping out of our comfort zones can be uncomfortable and even awkward at times. For some, it’s having a hard time talking to others they don’t know very well. For others, it’s learning to be a listener to a friend.
As I grew up learning to talk to others on my communication device I learned to ask a common question. “How are you doing?”
All of us have asked that question countless times over the years. But sometimes I can ask this question out of habit and not really care or want to know how they’re doing. If we’re honest, we have all done that before. Now I have started asking, “Hey, how have you been doing?” “How has your week been going?” I’ve started ending the conversation asking, “How can I pray for you?”
When I was a teenager I had a hard time making friends. I tried asking all the questions and would listen to them carry on about school and how hard or easy it was. But hardly ever did they ask me how I was doing or how school was going. It bothered me as a teenager that they only wanted to talk about themselves. But soon I realized I was that way with my family. I was very self-centered. I wanted to learn how to be friendly with others and have conversations just like everyone else, but I knew it was going to take longer. I also had to learn to listen during conversations while keeping things on topic. My mom and I would practice having conversations. It was very helpful for me to become a better communicator. As I’ve grown, I have more friends now than ever.
When I go to church, I ask the Lord, “Who can I encourage today?” That should be a question we ask every day. Because there are people who need encouragement while going through hard circumstances. Hebrews 3:13a says, But exhort one another daily.
That word “exhort” means encourage. I’ve learned to ask that question every day, but sometimes I think, “Am I really encouraging others when I text them?” Or, “Is my blog encouraging to others?” Whether it is or not, the Lord has to remind me that I’m not writing just to get comments or texts back. I’m writing and texting to encourage others—period. Comments are really encouraging and I’m thankful for each one. But that’s not the purpose of writing my blog.
I think sometimes I give myself a pass because I’m handicapped and it takes time talking to me. Which is why I’ve learned over time to type out in advance everything I want to ask. I do my very best to talk to visitors at church, especially the college students. I’ve become good friends with many college students over the years. Do they start out awkward at times? Yes, but I still go talk to them and make them feel welcome, because that’s how I want to be treated. I know I’m not the only friendly person at my church. But I’m a member there, so I desire to be a part of welcoming visitors. My parents taught me to be friendly to everyone. That verse in Proverbs 18:24 about being a friend has certainly played out in my life.
Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.