how to make heart connections with strangers

I’m the weird girl who wants to know everyone’s story. The check out lady. I want to know her. The guy in the hoodie walking down the road. I want to know him.

I think this is Jesus in me, wanting to know, know, know. Connection and relationship — He is always after that.

I remember this one time at Burger King.

It was before we traveled and I hadn’t been out of the house for an entire week, so I was ready to see other human being’s faces.

And I had just had my last kid, so was feeling very fragile inside and scared a little of the world. That always happened to me after I carried a human for nine months and introduced them to the world. It felt like nothing was quite safe enough for my new babes.

So, when I walked into places, I would constantly observe my surroundings and I’d feel around tenderly with those feelers that are attached to my heart and I’d hope to connect with people in gentle, positive ways.

When we sat down, I had noticed an old, old man across from us, all by himself, just sipping on his strawberry milk shake. So when he looked up and over at me, I smiled and let my eyes sparkle in his direction and then I waved, kind of like a shy kid waves on the playground.

He beamed and waved back at me. “There we go,” I thought. “That was a good heart connection.”

Then, later I had run in to him over by the restrooms and smiled and waved again and he stopped in his tracks and turned around to face me, eyes gleaming, and stammered out in his raspy old man voice, “You…you have a beautiful new year, okay?”

I’ve always thought it was fascinating how two strangers who have never seen each other before, and who will probably never see each other again, can become fast friends, for just a little bit of time.

After that, a couple of young dudes came in and sat in the booth next to ours. They looked a little like punks, you know, with their baggy britches and their hoods pulled over their heads and at first, I remember not knowing if they were safe, but I had decided to look into their eyes and smile and love them anyways.

When Sam walked past them, one of them laughed and they just stared at each other for a minute and then the dude said, “He’s adorable. How old is he?”

So Sam held up his three fingers and then they exchanged high fives and I thought it again, “Oh good. Another beautiful connection.”

The world feels torn and full of discord at times, but I’m just not sure that it’s as doomed as the news always tell us it is. At least, I hold out hope and pray for meaningful kinds of interactions with others. For more chats with strangers and a gentle kind of love that pushes through awkwardness and hurdles over walls and builds bridges so that more people can feel that belonging feeling.

And when I am in tune with the Spirit, I walk around knowing that every person that intersects with my life is a person of intrinsic value and unquestionable worth, because they, too, bear God’s image and are precious in His sight.

I wonder if more connecting moments are just waiting for us to pay attention to them. I mean, even at Burger King, while we’re eating supper, quick, we can look out for, and take care of each other.

I very much believe this is the way of Jesus.


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