I was sitting at the table and a friend said to me, ” I know you pretty well.”
I couldn’t help but think to myself, “no, you don’t.”
Yes, he knows things about me, but he doesn’t really know me. There’s more to me than what another can put into their mind. And this is true for everybody. Often times, we tend to put others into boxes, labeling them as one thing or another, and we miss the opportunity to truly encounter the other person every time we talk with them.
We are all mysteries. There’s so much to every human being that no other will ever fully know and understand.
But that’s the beauty of the mystery:
God created each person so beautifully and so different than myself. I cannot summarize a person and fully know them, let alone within one, simple encounter.
When I truly encounter another, it’s like receiving them as a blank piece of paper that Someone else is writing on. As I wonder at this work of art, I get to know God more because He is the artist behind it.
This person in front of me is not just what I see, or their feelings, nor how their day, month, or even year has been. This person has a complex story- a history and future of different experiences, people, and places that I don’t know about.
I don’t have access to this story within a first glance or even a first conversation with this person. Their words and openness are a door to their soul and interior. There are innumerable possibilities as to who this person could be and in every authentic encounter with them, I get closer to the reality of who they really are in God’s Eyes.
So what is the attitude I should have when I approach another person?
Instead of bringing preconceived ideas or formulating your response in your head, stop and listen. Receive the person in front of you.
There’s so much to discover in each new conversation with one person. If we are truly reverent towards others, if we are really listening, we can be exactly who that person needs us to be in that moment.
I want to let myself be surprised and be in awe of the person in front of me each and every time I encounter them. We can learn from Our Lord to be reverent and really listen, to discover more of the mystery of each person in front of is, and to be just who that person needs us to be in that moment.
Erika Scheelje is the Director of Formation for Christ in the City. She enjoys swimming, reading, and sharing/mission trips with the people in the mountains of Peru.