I’m THAT guy.
The one who makes conversation with cashiers and people in the street that I pass. I think I have a sense of appropriate space and time, but yeah, I’m that guy, who’s always talking to people. And now, my kids are starting to notice.
I took Sabrina with me to HEB. She’s the type who SO values the one-on-one time with me—as I do with her. Every time, we’re out we hold hands and talk about how it feels like we’re on a date. Then she asks me about actually taking her out on a date and we talk about where we’d go.
Usually, she wants to start at our neighborhood animal hospital. She’s not so much an animal lover, she’s mostly curious about the sickness and diseases. She’s very interested in the body and how it works; how we get sick and even what causes death. She’s not at all morbid. We’re pretty sure Sabrina’s going to be a doctor or something.
Walking out of HEB, there was a car that was coming across the parking lot and didn’t look like she was going to stop for us and another couple who was crossing with us. We both paused and the lady did (finally) see us and yield. As we proceeded together, I said to the lady next to me, “I always look for the eye-contact.” And she laughed and agreed with me. Adding, “Some people don’t look!” I wished her a good and safe night and she echoed me.
Walking towards our car, Sabrina asked, “Why are you nice to people? Why do you like to make them laugh?”
I wonder sometimes if she was jealous for my attention but I’m not willing to think that’s a factor. I’m intentionally focused on her and my family when we’re together. I don’t linger on my phone and we talk a lot while we out doing errands. But I do talk to people.
Partly, it could be something I learned from my mom. I remember her sometimes taking the bus downtown on Saturdays and coming back later in the afternoon. She’d say, “I met some lady and we went shopping together and ate lunch.” Just a stranger, I ask?
But I think I also do it to break the solitude. I think far too many us live in social bubbles. We’re rare for social contact—especially in public where we’re ruled by fear of strangers. I like to break those bubbles.
I’m pretty sure Jesus was that guy. He used the random moments like having a meals or fetching water to engage. He would attend the festivals and speak to the guy sitting alone. He talked to strangers. He broke bubbles.
My answer to Sabrina was something like, “Sweetie, I like to talk to strangers and make them laugh because too many adults live like we’re invisible to each other. And God asks us to be different; to be salt and light. But the other reason I talk to strangers is because God’s love is in my heart. I wasn’t always like this. I used to not care about anyone much, besides myself. But Jesus showed me God’s love and filled it in my heart. But you know, God’s love is so much that when it pours into our little hearts, it overflows. We can get really good at trying to stop it up, but it’s better when it flows out. That’s what I’m doing when I talk to strangers; I’m sharing God’s love with them. Even if it’s just a little laughter, I like to think they would be able to know that God loves them.”
She replied, “On our next date, let’s go the Animal Hospital then to out for seafood—NO! Maybe we’ll try sushi! And then…”
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