“There she is again,” I thought. Almost every time I went to the fitness center, I saw a tall, Middle Eastern young woman. I had never talked to her and I was feeling awkward as the weeks turned to months. It seemed that she was a little awkward about seeing me, too.
Normally, I strike up conversations early. The longer the time goes from initial encounter to introduction, the harder I find it to introduce myself. During this time, I had also been given a MP3 player, so I was listening to music or audio books when I could have chatted with some of the regular members.
Then one day, it dawned on me that she had lost quite a bit of weight, so I decided to ask her about it. I introduced myself and my daughter first.
Then I asked, “Excuse me, but it looks like you have lost weight.”
“Yes, I’ve lost thirty pounds.”
“Wow! How did you do it?”
She explained what she had done and we also learned that she was studying for a realtor’s license. When she said her name was Pooja, I asked her what it meant.
What an opening that was for a spiritual conversation! I did not say anything, however. I thought I must have appeared to be snubbing her for months and I assumed my actions had given a negative impression. “Better to chat with her a few times first,” I thought.
The next two times I saw her, we chatted only briefly. I remember God giving me another spiritual opening which I did not take. I have not seen her since.
So now I want to be aware of any personal hindrances:
• Am I talking on the cell phone when I should be chatting with the clerk or waitress?
• Should I turn off or turn down the music and tune in to those around me?
• Am I making assumptions that might not be true? Instead, I need to respond to those little cues that can move a conversation to spiritual topics.
• At least for me, it is better to have little bits of conversation to build on later than to wait to meet people.