Today, a friend and I were walking on campus to the location of our second meeting for our fellowship for the day. He was walking his bike and I was happily sipping at my soy pumpkin spice latte that I unfortunately couldn’t get earlier this morning because I wanted to avoid the newscaster stalking outside Starbucks (wasn’t going to embarrass myself with my lack of current football news).
Anywho, we were just chatting when this totally random guy that neither of us knew started to walk pass us. As he went by, he nodded to my friends bike with a grin saying “Nice bike,” before while continuing walking, nodding to my black Cedar Campus hoodie saying, “and nice hoodie” before he continued to go to wherever he was going.
Randomness aside, I found both of our reactions interesting as we both awkwardly looked from my friend’s used but still fully functional bike, to my bum-looking but comfy hoodie, all while awkwardly saying, “uh…thanks?” with looks of disbelief on my friend’s face and undoubtedly my face as well as the man continued on his way. Though there wasn’t any malice in the man’s voice, we immediately thought the guy was being sarcastic with us for no reason.
But why was that?
Why was our immediate thought of something that could have been a genuine act of trying to spread positivity looked upon as “weird”, “strange”, or “not genuine”? Why wasn’t our first impression that this man was merely trying to spread joy by finding ways to say something positive to the random people he came upon throughout his day.
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”. In a world where we’re so mistrusting and our faces are constantly hidden behind smart phones and laptops and all this other technology that manages to both bring us together while tearing us apart, it’s kind of sad that people today are so quick to jump to the negatives about a complete stranger, in whatever capacity. For me, sometimes I wonder if I have mistaken the difference between guarding my heart from things that can truly cause harm to me – like toxic thoughts about myself or others – and being flat out jaded towards maybe even the most well meaning, but still random, of interactions.
So yeah, still have no idea what the guy’s intentions were. Maybe he was just being friendly, maybe he was double flirting with my friend’s bike and my hoodie. Whatever his intentions, the world may never know. Whatever his intentions were, he did inspire me to pause and be more aware and really be more intentional in trying to improve someone else’s day.
My campus, is infamously known for being home of the socially awkward. Whether that’s true or not is up for debate (it’s totally true). However, instead of steadfastly starring down at my boots or avoiding contact by shuffling through music on my i-Pod, I can totally smile and say “hi” or “good morning” to people I walk by. They might think I’m odd like my friend and I thought about that guy as he continued on his way, they may think I have some sort of ulterior motive, or maybe, I could actually make someone’s day and remind them that they matter and are seen on a campus that a person can so easily get lost and sometimes forgotten on.
Who knows, but I guess it doesn’t hurt to try…