Awkward small talk. Just not your kind of person. Today we’re making an effort to challenge our perceptions. Most of us imagine we’re not the sort of people to make snap judgements or assumptions, just that, you know, we’d get round to talking to them tomorrow… or the next day. Well, today’s that day.
Choose how you’ll complete today’s act:
Take time to reflect on whether you’re making your mind up about people based on flimsy evidence. Challenge yourself to put those thoughts aside and take people as you find them.
Is there someone you tend to avoid? Strike up a conversation with them and see where it leads.
Go one step further and find a way to build connection: invite them to join you at an event or include them in your circle.
“Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”
(James 2:2–4 NIV)
Your thought for today:
I met Ruth shortly after I moved to the UK from Jamaica 15 years ago. After I relocated I depended on the kindness of strangers to welcome me into a new community.
I experienced a lot of rejection in those early days because people didn’t take time to get to know me. Sometimes the rejections came in questions or comments that revealed wrong assumptions – ‘Wow, you speak such good English’ (English is my first language) or ‘How come you have such fashionable clothes?’ (we have shops in the Caribbean).
I don’t remember ‘becoming’ friends with Ruth. Her friendship was a matter of fact. At a time when all the variables in my life had changed, her presence reassured me that God knew, loved and fully accepted me, even if many people I encountered didn’t understand me. We are from different backgrounds but quickly found that we had a lot in common.
Ruth’s acts of friendship were practical. She included me in social gatherings, made an effort to remember my birthday and invited me home to spend Christmas (and Easter!) with her family.
I will always be grateful for her openness and generosity.
Now that I have a family of my own, a home of my own and a strong community around me, my daily challenge is to follow my friend’s example of inclusion and selfless giving.
I won’t be close friends with everyone but when I meet someone different or new, I try to park my assumptions so I can be open and generous too.
Written by Jeanette Bain-Burnett
Jeanette Bain-Burnett works in regional government as head of the Mayor of London’s Community Engagement team. She lives in North London with her husband Jonathan and two ‘spirited’ children. Jeanette is an active leader and occasional preacher at her home church St Barnabas, North Finchley.
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