The other evening I was out with some people from church. My closest buddies weren't around, but I decided to foray into unchartered territory and expand a bit. Admirable enough, I suppose.
I am not the best at inserting myself into conversation when I'm with a group of unknown to little known people. I figure if there are two groups of people who are pretty good friends and I'm the odd person out, they should be extending courtesy to me. However, I remember that my prayer this year is to seek to serve and not be served, so despite failing multiple times, I put myself on the line until we were finally all introduced.
The first time I tried I don't think anyone heard me. The second time was interrupted to take pictures, and no one felt it was necessary to continue until I started for the third time to remind them of my presence. There was this annoying Catania/Sicily rivalry competitive thing going on, and people got a bit caught up I suppose. At one point I pulled out a book and started to read. But then I thought that might have been rude, and as we all know, two wrongs don't make a right. (I am fully aware of how this is a passive aggressive jab...)
It took a great deal of self control not to cry, if I am to be honest. I just wanted to be included in conversation. When other people found conversation lacking, or didn't hear very well (the main lady didn't speak loud enough), they turned to their cell phones. I don't have a smart phone. Unless I play that one jewel matching game that came with my 20 euro phone, I've got nothing. Hence the book that I decided to then put away.
You see, when you actually want to talk to someone, you talk to them, even if it means you're talking over me to talk to that person, still not actually including me in conversation. Each time I tried to engage the girl in front of me she engaged with her phone screen. And last minute including me in your "Sicilian people" photo out of some last ditch effort to include me then show everyone the photo but me, tag them all on FaceBook and not bother with me, well that just don't cut it.
But you see, as I have resolved to be servant hearted, I sought for what I could learn from this situation. Things are not always going to go my way, and people are not always going to act in what I perceive to be good taste. In the end I had a lovely evening chatting with the guy next to me, and occasionally one of the guys on the other end of the table.
Look, we're not perfect, none of us, but if we're going to be showing the character of Christ we need to actually show it. That means reaching out to others when they're the odd person out, and forgiving others when they don't reach out to you. In sum, it means taking us out of the center of our universe, and putting in Christ. Those moments of suffering were nothing compared to the rejection Christ experienced on our behalf. Now, that doesn't make the experience hurt less, but it does offer some perspective.
We've got to wake up. We need heart transplants in a bad way. If we cannot be loving with each other how on earth are we going to be able to love the world and be Christ's hands and feet? We've forgotten that God's work in us doesn't end with us. There's a whole world out there that we're called to minister to! When we fellowship with each other, put away the phones! When you are a professing Christian people watch to see your testimony.
What kind of testimony are you going to give?