I was a part of a martial arts group (some may call it something else), and we would interact with other groups from time to time. I have not been back to it for a long while, and if I came back, I would be mindful of how I would interact. I would be cool with getting back into it based on one person because this person had a welcoming spirit. It seems like this person would welcome folks in without being standoffish or discriminating. There are a few others like that, and I know there are some who may seem standoffish because of history reflecting the present. But because we have people who make others feel welcomed, some of that history can be just history.
I want to have a welcoming spirit (some may call it something different, maybe a welcoming heart). If someone sees me, I want them to feel like they can join in. I don’t want them to feel like they have to pay a cover charge for conversation. I do become standoffish because I need my breaks, but when I’m off of those breaks I want to make someone feel welcomed, even if I don’t say anything. There may be somebody who needs interaction, and although I’m not near professional level, I want to be that person to make someone feel welcomed. I’m guilty of not walking up to people and getting to know them, and I can blame it on my introverted nature, but there shouldn’t be any excuses. Really, it’s because I’m scared of people, but since I just admitted that, I can turn that around and develop ways to interact with new people (yay for working-through-your-problems therapy).
There have been occasions where I walked into a social outing and felt like I don’t belong. That’s a lonely feeling. I would rather be alone than with the crowd feeling lonely. Some folks may not understand that. I think some fight through those situations, and at times they are successful, while others find it socially and emotionally draining, so they depart earlier than expected. I don’t like exclusion, so if I had a superpower for a while, it would be shooting a compassion ray at people who feel lonely or excluded.
(Disclaimer: for my Christian people) Some churches need training in their welcoming committee. I’ve walked in a few churches, sat down, and no one came over to greet me. They just went on with the worship part of the service. There were other churches where people came up to me and had a small conversation. If churches want to have people come to their services, they have to reach out, like walk outside of the building and interact, not sit/ stand in the sanctuary with their arms stretched out. There are so many who feel like strangers in the world, so reaching out to them could bring some healing. Jesus had in His party fisherman, a few of them with foul mouths, a tax collector who was most likely hated by people because he was working with the Romans, a zealot who wanted to overthrow the Roman empire, and other social outcasts. And Jesus interacted with social outcasts, rejects, and the unapproachable. For some of us, it’s hard to step out of the comfort zone, but it’s a great reward to talk to a person who feels like an outcast, and that bad feeling can be removed from their life because somebody cares enough to make conversation.
Getting back to the first paragraph, I visited the martial arts group because they had a batizado in Lexington several months ago. When I walked in the building, a person said my full name, and it was a person who I haven’t seen in years. I was a little standoffish because I haven’t taken action to communicate, and I take responsibility for that. He then went to our mestre to tell that I was here. He, our mestre, tried to make me feel bad for not keeping in touch, but we don’t have each other’s phone numbers. I explain why I haven’t been around, and I know why I haven’t been around, and I’ll leave it at that. What needs to happen now is pushing to have a welcoming spirit, something that may seem conflicting with my introverted nature and stubbornness, but may bless others so that they won’t feel awkward.