Guest Post by Lauren
Hello my dear readers! I’m so excited to bring to you today a young woman who is so talented and caring. We met through the blogging world and once I read her blog, I wanted her to share with all of you. So, without further ado, please welcome Lauren of onesavedlife!
You are a woman living in a small, remote village in Malawi, Africa.
Your husband has been away since dawn and is not due to return until dusk, the children are out playing with whatever makeshift toys they find, and you are alone in your family’s hut, working to make sure your children have what they need and your husband is happy. It is the middle of the afternoon now, in the heat of the day, when suddenly you glance out your window and gasp. Walking through your village, just a little ways off, is a group of about ten strangers, who appear to be leisurely coming your way, and surrounded by the children of the village, your son and daughter included in the crowd. Not only is it shocking to see strangers at all in your humble village, but these visitors look different, their skin much lighter than your own and their clothes cleaner.
Who are they? What are they doing here? Where did they come from? What should you do?
Now pause the scene. What would YOU do? Some of you might usher in your children, shut the door, and hide out, knowing that your husband wasn’t home and you knew nothing about these strangers. Others might watch cautiously from the doorway, but do nothing. Others still might walk out and join, willing to give the strangers a handshake and a smile. Each of these options have logical merit, as safety may be a priority and concern in a situation like that, and understandably so. In fact I venture to guess that if we were all honest with ourselves, a vast majority of us would do the first option, grab our children and hide out since we know nothing about these strange people and could be easily overpowered by them.
But, as you may have already possibly guessed, this is a true story and that is not what the woman did. In fact she did above and beyond what any of us would expect. Instead of grabbing her children and shutting her door on us, the strangers with the lighter skin and cleaner clothes, she ran outside to greet us, her smile wide and her waving hand enthusiastic. But even more incredibly, she then ran back inside to grab several mats, which she laid out in the dirt before her hut. These mats were for us and they were a simple invitation for us to stay. They were a symbol that we were graciously welcome to her home and that her arms were open to each and every one of us for however long we were willing to visit.
Not quite the greeting we give and receive when a stranger comes to our front door, is it? We usually don’t roll out the mats for the neighborhood sales guy and invite him to stay for dinner. The world is unsafe and to do that is just asking to be taken advantage of.
But think of all the opportunities we are missing out on by shutting ourselves up in our huts as we do every single day. Think of all the love, compassion, understanding, kind words, warm eyes, encouraging handshakes, and chances at friendship that we are shutting up with us. Please don’t get me wrong! I am not saying we should be allowing everyone who we meet into our homes with a hug and $1,000 cash. I am saying that, as a society, we have a tendency to build our walls so high, protect ourselves SO well from being taken advantage of, that we can hardly make eye contact and smile with a stranger, much less talk to them, and that, my friends, is where we are missing out.
It’s alright to be friendly, it’s alright to care, and it’s not weak or silly to show a world of strangers that you care about them. They are human just like you. They are fighting battles just like you. They have interests and talents and feelings and opinions just like you. And not everyone is out to get you. Their walls are high because as a society, they are expected to build them high. And society ALWAYS knows what’s best, right?….
How many times have you been wandering around your school campus, driving to work, going about any part of your daily life, and you just wanted someone to notice you? Just a smile would do, some sort of indication that you are alive, that you are part of the community too. How many times have you smiled at a stranger next to you only to be ignored, or worse, given a strange look. This is why we can feel lonely in a crowd. This is why we continue to build our walls. But you can be the light in the darkness of this expectation. You can share a smile, open a door for someone, compliment their shoes, randomly pay for a stranger’s meal. These aren’t hard things, and when you really think about it, it’s strange that we aren’t more comfortable doing them. It is strange that we should feel so comfortable shunning the members of our own community and that kindness, as a result, makes us feel uncomfortable, and sometimes even confused. But I urge you to try it anyway, regardless of what kind of reactions you get. And if you get a strange look or are ignored completely, keep doing it anyway! Break down the walls of defensiveness one brick at a time. Don’t give in to the societal norm of over-protection. Dare to make a new friend. Dare to brighten somebody’s day.
It is the love of Christ you are sharing in that simple smile. Spread it like wildfire!
Lauren – onesavedlife
Thank you so much Lauren! I know that post was very timely for me, and I hope it was for all of you too. Be sure to check out Lauren’s blog and say hi! =)