Living in Philadelphia has greatly changed the way I view relationships in a lot of ways. The people that I have met and the lessons I have learned through my service site, Friday Formations, walking around the city, and attending a True Vine Community Church have shown me the importance in regarding everyone you come across as a child of God. Seeing everybody as a the person they are, and not just a face that you will simply forget in the folds of your memory as you walk past or muster a hello to on public transport.
I have always regarded myself as a friendly person but as my heart continues to grow for this city and my understanding of the word of God does as well I am realizing there is a difference between being friendly and being a friend. Being friendly is pleasant but that does not mean that it can create a lasting impression on those you come across, but being a friend even if its for a short interaction can create beautiful things and make life so full for both involved. Being friendly is the world's basic template for being civil to one another, but being a friend is going above and beyond that. It is showing true concern for the person that you are currently connecting with and regarding them as an individual and a child of God. This to me is an important part of not only being a human but being a christian.
If one truly looks at their day to day interactions can they truly say that they saw in everyone the came across a child of God or did they simply see a passerby who they will never see again? In the beginning of my time here in Philadelphia the passerby was a very common theme. I often did not attempt to make new relationships with people simply based out of the awkwardness of interacting and the feeling that I would never see them again. The people of the city seemed to move too fast to even attempt it and their faces to me seemed less than friendly. It took courage, prayer, and a healthy dose of humility for me to realize I was looking at people in a way that wasn't as God intended me to. I was simply judging them for what they happened to look like on that day, in that second, on that block, on that particular street. I realized soon after that it would take a long process for me to get out of that state of mind.
However, over time the more interactions I had, the more I began to become more open towards people. Learning more about who God wishes us to be to people and how our interactions both in short fraction of time or life long are important in advancing the Kingdom was something that sparked my love for building better relationships. Though it is still incredibly uncomfortable for me to attempt interacting with strangers, especially in a city I am not familiar with, it has been one of the most fulfilling parts of my time here.
I encourage all of us to ask God everyday to see who we can interact with and how to best minister to them with our words and actions of authentic relationship building. I encourage all of us to keep each other accountable of how we measure up people before we understand who they truly are. I encourage us to hold each other to a higher standard of social interaction. Lastly I encourage all of us to look upon every new interaction as a chance to build a new bridge, a new bond, a new piece in the chain of love that this world so desperately needs. I urge all of us to be mindful of being a friend to all we come across not just friendly.
After all we have nothing to lose by giving our time and minds to people and so much more to gain.
Freddie's ministry placement is at St. James School as a Teaching Assistant.