What's In A Handshake?

How do you approach people? Are you looking for flaws right away, or expecting the best? This is more than a glass half-full or empty question; this is a deep spiritual question. How often is awareness of expectations in the forefront when meeting someone?

When we first meet someone, and we know we are going to meet them, the awareness of expectations is heightened, say, in a first date, a job interview, etc. What about the people one meets many times during the day by accident - someone new in the grocery line, at the bank, or just passing on the street? Then there are the people who are known: friends and family. How often do the stories come before the person does?

Recently I had the opportunity to share about Mark 6:1-6, when Jesus went home to preach and they couldn’t get past the person they thought they knew. I thought how sad that the gift of healing was missed because they “knew” him and weren’t open to healing. Then I realized I, too, may be missing gifts of healing because I “know” someone. As a spiritual director, I am aware of letting go and being present to the story that shows up with those I meet. In my everyday life, I have to admit it can be hit and miss.

As I reflected on that, I realized that often when my story about myself is not the most pleasant, it also influences the story I bring to others. If I am not seeing possibilities with myself, it is hard to bring possibility to others. Then it reaches to my thoughts of God/Divine/Mystery. How do I let my familiarity with that relationship keep me from being closed off because I “know”?

Thank goodness awareness is the first step! I know I have mentioned a daily review (Examen) before, yet it is worth repeating. Taking time at some point in the day and just asking “How have I approached people?”,  “When was I open to the movement of God in them?”, “How open was I to healing?” can make a huge impact in awareness.

This week, take time to notice how you approach people. See what roads that awareness takes you!


Amanda PetersenComment