If you find it hard to make new friends or enter a roomful of strangers alone, this story about the importance of offering friendship can help. One woman’s kind offer of friendship showed me a new way to be a friend to strangers and how to do it with grace and kindness.
I pulled into the lot, parked, and checked my watch. Too early to go to my meeting. If I dallied for a few minutes, I could cruise into the workshop just before it started and avoid the awkwardness of meeting a roomful of strangers.
I scrolled through a few emails. Rummaged through my purse. Sorted receipts. Delayed as long as possible.
Finally, I made my way inside, pasted on a smile I didn’t feel and looked for a free chair – preferably close to the rear of the room, a place to be invisible in the crowd. Other introverts beat me to the back row but there was one place left at the end of a row near the front. A beautiful, well-put-together woman was in the next seat. I groaned inwardly for I felt shabby and rumpled beside her.
The Importance of Offering Friendship: One easy technique
Before I could ask if the seat was taken, she looked up and greeted me with a huge smile. “Sit here,” she said. “I want to be your new friend.” Startled yet relieved, I sat down. “I don’t really know anyone,” she told me. “Let’s hang out together.”
I laughed and agreed.
Her invitation put me completely at ease. My tension and fear evaporated in an instant. Her gracious invitation made me feel a part of the group, despite the multitude of unfamiliar faces, and her kind welcome eased what could’ve been a very difficult weekend.
Those first sweet words still hand in my mind. “I want to be your friend,” she’d said and proceeded to act on her intentions. Her example is a model I hope I remember and one we, in the body of Christ, would do well to emulate.
Don’t just make a friend, be a friend.
Imagine the impact if we said—and meant—those words to people who feel estranged and alone. Would they tarry a bit? Might they long to know what makes us different?
Unfortunately, my tendency is to greet the people I know. It’s an act of discipline to look for those I don’t know. I try to greet strangers with a smile and a quick introduction. Sometimes I include a few get-acquainted questions. It shames me to say this, but never have I greeted a stranger, welcomed them, and offered friendship with follow-through to show I meant it, in the church building or outside it.
If we’re honest, many of us are a lot like me. Our lives are so full there’s barely room for those we love, much less the new people Jesus sends our way. Is this what Jesus intended when He said to love your neighbor as you love yourself? I hate to admit it because it requires change on my part, but I don’t think so.
Love includes a smile and a greeting, but it’s much deeper, longer-lasting than a mere hello. It’s far bigger than we realize. The kind of love Jesus commanded is a long-haul commitment, even when it’s not romantic love.
Imagine churches in which we arrived at services with a “Sit with me; I want to be your friend” mentality. Imagine if we meant what we said to strangers and followed up with a phone call and an invitation. Life would be different. Fuller. Richer.
Consider what would happen if we took that same let-me-be-your-friend, love-you-no-matter-what determination outside the walls of the church meeting place. If we adopted the royal law of our King, (James 2:8) to love our neighbor in the same way we love ourselves, strangers would become friends and our lives would be better for it.
At its core, the importance of offering friendship is the love and kindness it displays. Love God. Love all. It’s the royal law of our King so, as followers of Jesus, let’s reach out and love someone today.
“If, however, you are fulfilling the a]”>royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.” James 2:8
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2
Thanks for sharing your time to read “The Importance of Offering Friendship.”
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