Several years ago, I was viciously attacked at work. I believe, had someone not walked in the door (and the Lord’s gracious intervention) I would not be here today.
Through the years, even though I am basically very shy, I have taught myself because of the jobs I have held, to be more outgoing and friendly. However, after the attack, I withdrew into myself for years.
One day, as I was leaving physical therapy, I felt the Lord nudging me to start being more outgoing. I normally would have smiled and said, “Hi” to people as I passed them, but the attack left me extremely fearful of even my own shadow.
The nudges kept coming, each one stronger and more forceful than the last, so to the next person I passed by, I said, “Hi,” then hurried on my way to the car.
A few seconds later, I heard steps behind me, and even though fearful, I didn’t turn around. Then the man I had just said hi to was in front of me and facing me. My immediate instinct was to scream and run, and the poor guy must have seen the fear in my eyes, because he very kindly said, “Ma’am, thank you!”
“For what?” I asked.
“For treating me like a human. You are the first person in years to look me in the eye and say hello, and for that, I thank you.”
I stammered out the words you’re welcome to him and then rushed to my car before the tears became full-fledged sobs.
In my fear and hesitation, I would have walked right past him, but the Lord knew we both needed each other that day, because we both needed to feel humanity at its least, but feel it nonetheless.
The Lord exhorts us throughout the New Testament to love our neighbors as ourselves and that day, quite unaware that I was, I followed the precepts of Matthew 19:19b, Matthew 22:39b, Mark 12:31 and John 15:17.
I wish I could say that broke the dam and I have been able to continue since, but I can’t. I can say, though, that I try to find something nice to say to everyone I pass-from “What a pretty necklace” to “I like your tie.”
It is not easy. More often than not, I want to run – not say something – but the Lord strengthens me and gives me the words. Oh, the joy on their faces when the realization hits them they are more than just a number in a sea of people.