In a society where the village mindset is a thing of the past and isolation is the norm, it's easy to find our orbit and tune out the rest. Sometimes that's necessary for a season, but real growth begins when we venture beyond what we know.
Think about a big change that's happened in your life. Moving to a new place, starting college, getting married, having children- whatever it is, with the excitement of that change often comes a deep sense of loneliness. You don't quite fit where you are, and perhaps part of you feels like you're straddling two worlds. It's natural to want to feel a part, to feel firmly planted, like you're where you are supposed to be. But what if you...don't?
When you're surrounded by the unfamiliar, you have a choice to make: put yourself out there, or wait for someone to reach out to you.
That's uncomfortable, right? Take a moment and sit in that discomfort with me. No wonder we find our orbit and avoid leaving it at all costs! We feel safe in our familiar spaces, but what are we missing? Who are we missing?
We miss the opportunity for meaningful connection.
We miss the opportunity to learn new things about ourselves and the people around us.
We miss the new mom who is struggling and afraid to reach out.
We miss the co-worker who desperately needs a friend.
We miss the immigrant who needs help navigating a new city, language, and culture.
We miss the lonely ones.
We miss the hurting ones.
We miss the interesting ones.
We miss a chance to understand.
We all know we're supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves, The Golden Rule, etc. That's not so hard to do in our safe, insulated places, but what about everywhere else?
How willing are we to stop and pay attention to the people around us? How willing are we to reach out and offer bits of ourselves in the form of help, time, or friendship? What about when they're different, or vulnerable, or intimidating? What if it costs us something?
The truth is that it might cost us something. However, I would also wager that whatever we stand to lose, we would gain more.
When we allow ourselves to be willing to step away from our safe spaces and into the lives of others, we begin to break down barriers of fear or misunderstanding. We begin to see others through a lens of compassion and empathy. We begin learning to love the unfamiliar.