As I sat across this woman, I had no idea that seeing her would become the highlight of my days. I started the session the way I usually do, “welcome to physical therapy this is what you can expect…” We worked through her evaluation. Her answering my questions, me tugging on the body part that brought her through the door. She kept up a delightful chatter as I went back and forth measuring different things and typing up my findings. That was where it began. Our relationship was simple, she came in for her therapy and I gave it to her.
Despite the simplicity of our routine, there was an underlying energy triggered as we engaged in it. I was not the only one affected by it. Somehow almost as soon as she walked into the room she was leaving a trail of smiles in her wake. People just leaned in to talk to her like a plant seeking the sunshine.
There are habits, choices, and actions that shape people into the kind of people that bless others by just showing up to places. Here is what I observed about her and how I applied it to my life:
Embracing rest on the inside
“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” it’s a beautiful and frightening truth. I so easily blame my pardon worthy speech on tiredness or something external but the truth is that what I say is always a reflection of an internal state of affairs no matter what likely triggers there were externally. Seeing this woman communicate with such grace and an underlying peace was beautiful. Her peace and rest worked its way up from her heart through her mouth and soothed all the rough edges in the room. No doubt she had things that were challenging for her, yet she still managed to achieve an enviable calm that blessed everyone she encountered.
Choosing to see people
It’s amazing how self -centered we can be. I noticed if I don’t intentionally “get out of my head” I can navigate a day constantly thinking about my next step and strategizing for upcoming challenges or tasks. I can be around people but be so consumed with what I am doing that my interactions are nothing more than a knee-jerk response to social cues. As a wise friend and mentor once told me, to really see people, one needs to walk into a room and not think “here I am” rather “there you are.” This woman was one of those there-you-are people and it’s so refreshing in a world filled with more here-I-am’s. Every time I caught a piece of a conversation she was having I heard a child being inquired about or a sincere compliment being paid. It was so lovely. We all need love and attention but to approach the world seeking primarily to give it more than to receive it is a rare thing.
Expressing your delight
There are few things as irresistible as a happy person. Somehow they just lighten your load even just for a moment. This woman readily described things she found delightful ranging from a peaceful retreat, a beautiful building, a meaningful relationship. It is always so wonderful to be reminded of the amazing things all around us – a reminder to stop and smell the roses in the middle of our rat race. Expressed delight draws people out and encourages them to notice more blessings in their own lives too!
Going the distance
It is easy to participate in relationships by rote. Ask the usual questions, give the usual responses and essentially have the same conversations over and over again. This is socially exasperating, yet we are content to relate at this level. There are times when this kind of interaction is unavoidable but many times we are just lazy. We do not really want to know how people are doing because for whatever reason (valid or invalid) it’s just too much effort. In my interaction with this woman, I was always impressed by the quality of her conversations. She asked good questions, paid attention to the answers and did a good job following up on those answers. This kind of attention communicates one’s value for the other person which can be incredibly life-giving.
Honoring your struggles
When your desire is to bring light to the people you encounter, it can be tempting to deny your struggles. They seem to cast a shadow on what would otherwise be a bright life. However, struggles authenticate your joy. Shared struggles inspire strength and courage. They remind us that life is indeed hard but we need to choose to navigate the challenges in a way that enriches us and others.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
John 15:11 ( NIV)