In May of 2014, while in Prague…I saw a man on a bench. He was more than likely homeless and for some reason his pants were soaked. I watched him from a distance trying to will myself to go to him, and even with the language barrier, find a way to help him. Make myself go buy him another pair of pants—but I didn’t. I didn’t know how. It was yet another situation, albeit it a complex one, that made me realize how much I lacked certain personal skills.
I envy people who easily volunteer their time, open themselves up to strangers, and make themselves available to people in need.I didn’t even make myself available to my family. I felt I lacked an ability to get attached, care, and develop close relationships. I kept watching him, my heart breaking, so I prayed. I prayed God would change me where I clearly couldn’t change myself. That He would help me become more available, accessible, and open.
Two years and some change later, I cried as I said good-bye to my stepmom before heading out on my road trip. I was taken back by the depth of emotions I felt about leaving, and how much my time with my family had meant to me. I was also saddened when I left my stepdad and when I left my cousin. Again, the intensity of the emotions took me by surprised, until, it finally dawn on me…I was opening up. I was allowing myself to get attached, vulnerable, and available.
While I took the year to work on my writing and continue to travel—I also consciously chose to make it a year I would start to spend more time with my family. Additionally, it became a year where through my travels, I would meet and connect with many people. It started by leveraging AirBnB to find places to stay. Again, this didn’t initially calculate with me, but I now realize, as strangers opened their homes to me, I opened myself to strangers. For the first time in my travels, I met, and fully interacted with people in ways I hadn’t been able to before.
I’m not as protective of my time and self, although the operative word is as protective. I can have a conversation without it needing to serve a purpose except that of getting to know someone, but I’m still not going to partake in small talk, drama, or pointless debates. This might not seem like a big deal, but to me, it means becoming less selfish and being on the right road to continued growth as a more selfless human being.
Jesus made time for those He encountered. He always gave of Himself. He mandates we do the same—that we think of others before ourselves. That we pay attention to the people around us, who they are, and what they need.
I’ve come across people, who just like me, all they needed was to talk about Jesus Christ and share their testimony. People who wanted to be reassured of God’s faithfulness and goodness. In speaking with them, my faith was renewed. God has been sending me people with demands I can fulfill through being who I am in Him. In return, I’m rewarded by the experience and I know my prayer is being answered through taking part in being more like Him, and being there for others.
I don’t know what all I’ll have to show for the last year, but one thing that won’t be visible (as in a physical possession) but be the most significant is having begun to open up, give more of myself, and made myself available to real connections.