When my kids were young I taught them how to bounce the ball back. No, I’m not talking about a real ball or even the game of basketball. Although, Nathan was a good little basketball player when he was growing up. I loved watching him play. I’ll have to share with you sometime soon about me starting a basketball team. Yes, you read that correctly. It was a hilarious experience. Well, it wasn’t hilarious at the time…..but, now when I think of it…..I can’t help but laugh. But, for today, I wanted to talk about bouncing the ball back to others.
Several years ago I was attending my first writers conference. I didn’t know a soul there. During break, I was sitting on a sofa in the lobby and a lady was sitting close by. We started chatting…..just small talk. I could have easily, just said, “nice to meet you” and gone on my way. But, between this sweet lady and myself, we ended up in a deep conversation. Today, she is one of my very dear friends and someone I look up to for wisdom. On another occasion, I received an email from someone I didn’t know. She had been given my name from someone that knew of me in the Dallas area. She took a chance and sent me an email to ask if I knew of any writers groups in my city since she was moving here. I could have easily just forwarded her the information. Long story short, I wrote her back and asked a few questions and made it a point to contact her when she made the move to my city and we went to lunch and from there, we became close friends. She is an encourager in my life and an inspiration to me.
That is what I mean by bouncing the ball back. When someone reaches out to you…..reach back….bounce the ball back. When someone says, good morning as you are out shopping or sitting in church, tell them the same and add something to maybe get a conversation going. You never know what could become of that.
How many times have we sat in church waiting for the service to start and everyone is just sitting there staring straight ahead not speaking. Reach out and strike up a conversation with someone. I know….there are many people who don’t want to talk and they aren’t interested….you just go to the next person. Or, how about maybe not even a conversation. How about a smile or a pat on the shoulder and say something positive to them, such as, “I love your shoes.” Maybe you don’t love their shoes…there has to be something about everyone that would be easy to compliment.
A smile is the easiest. I just got in from doing some shopping. I passed a lady on the way to my car. I smiled at her and she said, “What a beautiful smile.” Isn’t that sweet? I don’t think I have a pretty smile, but, she was so kind. I want to be like that, don’t you? When you pass people who are in a hurry, just smile. If they don’t smile back, that is okay. When they smile at you, smile back and say, “hi!” So easy.
A few years ago, I was leaving church and a lady stopped me. She had her arms folded and looked down at me with a look that seemed she wasn’t too sure of me. She said, “Who are you… and where did you come from!” I proceeded to tell her my name and that my husband and I had moved back to the area, blah blah blah. She never changed expressions. She wasn’t impressed. I then excused myself and left. A few days later, I was walking through a department store and I saw this same lady checking out at a counter. I walked over and patted her and said “Hi, how are you doing?” She looked over at me as if I were bothering her and as she looked me up and down she then said “fine!” and turned around and walked away. From that day forward, I kept my ball from her. I was no longer going to try. There is something about me that I don’t like too much and that is, I have a tendency to give up on trying to win people over. Especially, people that are rude and mean spirited. Granted, I know that if I keep trying, someone may come around. I have tried working with someone in ministry purposely that I knew without a doubt didn’t like me…..I never won them over. It’s hard work and it takes a lot of humility. I’m a very discerning person and I usually know when someone is purposely rude, is shy, is going through a hard time, or just doesn’t have any manners. It’s easy to be patient and keep bouncing the ball back to them except for the purposely rude ones. They take much patience and prayer. Then there are always the genuinely kind and happy people. They are a piece of cake! We all need people like that in our lives, don’t we? WE can be that type of person for others.
With this day of social media, it’s interesting as well. Have you ever been friends with someone on social media and then when you meet them in person, they have nothing to say or they don’t really want to acknowledge you. But, on Facebook you know everything about them; what they ate for dinner, where they went for vacation, who their friends are, what they like and don’t like and even when they can’t sleep. If we were that interested in talking face to face, we would probably have some really “true friends” wouldn’t we?
Then we have texting and comments on your social media. If someone goes to the trouble of looking our name up and then taking time to type out something or share a picture with us, we should always respond. Not answering a text or a comment on your social media pages to me is like just not answering someone if they were talking to you face to face. Or turning your back on them. We would never do that, would we? Well, there might be some people that would. -wink!
On my Facebook, memories from up to 5 or more years ago will pop up. I love looking at pictures and reading what was going on years ago. A couple of times I cringe when I see that someone left a comment and I never responded. All I can think of is that I never saw it. I’m so tempted to comment back, but, this particular one that I recently saw was from 6 years ago. If I comment, the picture will start circulating again….how embarrassing. So, I just learn from that and I carefully acknowledge anytime someone takes the time to connect or comment now.
You may be saying….”Beverly, what makes you such an expert on this subject?” Well, I’m not….I’m learning everyday. I blow it too many times in this area and I can probably recall each time I did and regret it horribly. I was extremely shy growing up and I basically still am….I just work at it really hard. When I was about 15 or so, I had a man at church shake my hand as I was walking out and he he called me “stuck up!” It hurt deeply and I was determined to not let people think that of me ever again. I’m sure they did as I was shall I say, “painfully shy!” So, I’m a work in progress and I’ve worked hard at it. No expert….just a crazy girl trying to be all that God created me to be!
Bouncing the ball back is hard sometimes. You may be humbled or you may make a new best friend. Who knows, you may be able to share some good news with someone who is going through a hard time or is in desperate need of a Savior. Even though it’s hard at times, the rewards are worth it.
I have a challenge for us today:
Bounce the ball back……….or better yet, you bounce first!
Until next time….