I saw a friend running the other day while I was driving home. I’ve seen him running this route before, but usually I just keep on driving home. This time though, I decided to stop and join him; so I parked in a nearby lot, and ran to meet him. We were able to check in on each others lives, see if there were any struggles or new insights, and enjoy the fresh air while doing so. I share this story because it is part of a larger narrative.
I live in a small town. When you live in a small town, you get to see a lot of the same people, and you also have the chance of crossing paths or seeing people you know on a daily basis. For some, this is why they don’t like the small town life, but for me, it’s one of the things I love about it. I get used to this, so it becomes familiar, and when something becomes familiar, it’s possible to overlook its quality.
You don’t have to live in a small town to develop familiarity with people. It could be our next door neighbors, the guy you see walking his dog around the block everyday, the cashier at our grocery store, the delivery guy, parents at our kid’s school; or acquaintances from work, church, or school. In familiarity there is opportunity, and in our community we have the chance to build community.
What does life look like when familiarity opens the door for opportunity? A one time stranger may become an acquaintance, and an acquaintance may end becoming a friend. In the instance with my friend who was running, it really lifted my spirits to interact with him; and it was a friend who I had been wanting to catch up with as well. If I can learn to see this small town familiarity as a gift, then perhaps I will make time to build these relationships even when it isn’t convenient; even if it’s as simple as stopping to say hello.