Imagine going to a social event and feeling like just a face in the crowd when someone comes up to greet you, introduces themselves, and invites you to share some information about yourself with them.
You begin to tell them about your work, your family, your interests, but then something unusual occurs; they don’t turn to begin to talk about themselves, they seek more information on you, because they appear genuinely interested—and there’s no hidden agenda. It’s not like they’re prying or anything—they sincerely want to know what it’s like to be you.
I don’t know about you, but this strikes me as a very odd situation, but it is something that has happened to me, and since it did, I have started to do it myself because I discovered something...
The point is this: when we throw ourselves into the practice of truly wanting to know what it’s like to be another person, God seems to do two things: 1) our anxieties, for the moment, become extinguished; and 2) we’re filled with a joy beyond our own construction.
There is also another set of social advantages: 1) we may truly get to know the other person much more intimately; 2) a bond may develop between them and us; and, 3) we prove God is real in the relational space between the two of us.
Engaging Genuinely in the Other Person
It takes a lot of joy-bounded love in our hearts to surrender our thoughts for ourselves long enough to dive into another person’s world. We would much prefer to talk about ourselves than listen to other people.
But hear this: a realm of relational blessing—a blessing of connectedness enjoyed for two—stands to be gained when we enter another person’s world. We might both gain.
Engaging genuinely in the other person is agreeing with ourselves that we are not the topic of discussion; they are.
Having made such an agreement with ourselves we are now totally consumed with interest in their world and God’s Spirit begins to show us many things we were not previously aware of. Our perceptions are sharpened. We notice things about them we wouldn’t normally have. And in all this we sense a connection probably very close to love. God blesses us with a cogent sense of wellbeing.
Entering into Relationship by Faith
This is what we are doing: we are entering into relationship by faith.
We are putting ourselves on the back-burner long enough to deal with the other person much like Jesus would. Jesus would be innately interested. If we are devoted to the idea of becoming more like Jesus, entering into relationship by faith enough to enter another person’s world will get us closer.
It’s an expression of faith.
How else are we to happily put ourselves on the back-burner, than to enquire lovingly of another? It takes faith to sow such threads of love, but in the right mind—our loving mind—we redeem joy, and the Presence of God, as well as seeing the loving bonds that are being created because the other person sees the authenticity of the Spirit through us.
God’s love is made real when we enter another person’s world with genuine interest; to understand who they are, from where they’ve come from, and why. Listening without retort or judgment is rare. But it’s even rarer when someone wants to listen, and wants to get to know us. God’s Presence is known when our love is shown.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.