One of my new favorite things to do is meet strangers. I was in a coffee shop meeting a friend the other day and I saw these two guys sitting across the way. They had kind of an “Odd Couple” look to them in that they were outwardly very different from one another but they were obviously there together. Jeremy looked the younger of the two. Sporting a cool haircut, facial hair, wearing jeans, a plaid shirt and those trendy nerd chic glasses. Greg was in pleated khakis and a polo, classic american business casual, clean shaven with an office space business appeal.
After my friend and I parted ways I reached out to them to see if I could learn more about them. Jeremy worked for Land Rover and Greg was passionate about his family. Despite their outward shallowly assessed differences these guys meet weekly at this coffee shop and have been doing so for years. They were church goers and as Greg playfully described it, their time together was usually spent by Jeremy listening to his complaints.
Our time was shorter than I would have liked but I was grateful for their cordial willingness to let a stranger interrupt them with random questions. The problem is that to gain any real insight into a person you have to spend some time with them and it takes a little while to transition from favorite sports teams and occupations to life stories and greatest fears. I wish I had more time to just encounter people. I want to know their stories. I want to hear about the moments that have shaped them.
One of the things I have learned about people is that they each have a story. Truett Cathy, the late founder of Chick-Fil-A is known for pouring this principle into his employees. In their training videos they are very intentional to remind employees that when and if an employee is un kind or impatient it is important to remember that they too have a story and they need to take time to read it.
As I have shared my story over the past 5 months I have had the honor of hearing others along the way. I have been fortunate to hear of at least seven people who have found the courage to get honest with themselves and their loved ones through reading about my journey. I have long believed that the life I was living was meant to help others through their own difficulties and it is really freaking cool to see that beginning to happen.
So for the next undetermined amount of time I want to share some of those stories with you. I’m going to continue to approach strangers on the street but I hope that you, my readers, would be willing to begin sharing your stories as well! If you would like to be a part of this journey I would love to set up an interview with you to hear your stories. You can email me at email@example.com and let me know you’re interested. Along the way I will continue to share some short stories of my own about some of the things I have learned along the way. My hope is that this honest storytelling will lead us all to take a look around us and begin to have compassion on one another.
I made a statement on facebook this week that seemed to resonate with a lot of people this week.
“Not every white is racist. Not every muslim is a terrorist. Not every christian is a bigot. Not every man is a womanizer. Not every woman is a slut. Not every black is a criminal. Not every mexican is illegal. Not every priest is a child molester. Not every lawyer is a liar. Not every judge is corrupt. Not every cop is dirty. In each case I am certain that the ones that are are in fact the minority of their group. When will we come to see that the absolutes we are labeling one another with are part of what's holding us back? The is so much power in having conversations with those who are different from us. And for that minority who do those terrible things we must bind ourselves, the majority, together and find hope in this promise of Christ, ‘In this world you will have trouble but fear not, I have overcome the world’
Meet a stranger today and start being the change…”
I suppose what I intended to say was that every life has a story if we bother to read it. Come along with me, share with me, meet strangers with me, and maybe we will change the world.