Taking a Risk on a Stranger
“There are people in the world we are supposed to know; we just have to learn how to recognize them and take the risk to meet them.”
I saw her enter the room. There were hundreds of people present, but she stood out to me instantly. She was tall, beautiful, dressed just so…
…and I hated her.
I can only describe what I felt towards her as a flash of revulsion, almost a loathing. Everything within me recoiled at the sight of her. I didn’t even know this woman but I felt an instant disdain of everything she stood for. My initial desire was to put her out of my mind completely, as if she never existed—to carry on at the event like she wasn’t in the room ignoring her very being. Instead, I did what I’ve learned to do every time this has happened to me…
… I ran over to her and introduced myself.
Since the time I committed my life to Jesus, I’ve learned that there are people in this world we are supposed to know, and for me, there is a very specific way of identifying them—instant revulsion to a total stranger. I know that must sound crazy…weird, even! I’m sure you’re thinking, “How can you make such an awful judgment against someone you’ve never even met?” Or, “If you felt so strongly against this person, why in the world would you introduce yourself?” I’ve come to realize that intense feelings like those do not originate from me. This is a tactic that only one who really understands “hate” uses to try to dissuade me from a new union of friendship or cooperation (see John 8:44). I’m familiar with this tactic now; it’s happened probably a dozen or more times. In her case, I didn’t allow enough time to pass to make a judgment over what kind of person she was. I just knew that I was supposed to know her.
You see, God uses other people to assist us in helping others on his behalf. It may be that one of us has a piece of information the other needs, a word of encouragement, a shared experience, connections with someone else, or a lead to an opportunity we’ve been praying about. The reason doesn’t always present itself quickly; sometimes I have to get to know the person better before I know the purpose. I just know that this feeling of repulsion is a signal to me that this is someone I’m supposed to know. And, out of obedience, I go for it.
I’m not sure if I’m the only one this has ever happened to, I may be! But the next time you come across a person and experience even hints of jealousy, rivalry, or contempt, consider that this person may be someone God needs you to connect with (whether you’re a believer or not!). It may not be easy for you to approach them, I know. Whenever I have had intense negative feelings for someone, it has taken a moment to discern what’s going on and then gain enough courage to make the move. I’ve had to take that risk many times, stepping out of my comfort zone to meet a total stranger who has no idea what’s going on—and then come across in such a way that doesn’t seem fake or silly! I just trust that God knows what he’s doing and if I’m supposed to know this person then he will work out the details.
So what happened with the woman? Turned out she’s one of the most amazing women I’ve ever met and she’s lovely, both inside and out! We ended up becoming friends, though that didn’t happen right away. After that day, we kept running in to each other at events around town, and pretty soon it became obvious to her, too, that we were supposed to know each other better. So we did what I love doing most—we scheduled a coffee and talked for three hours. We encourage and help one another in various ways, looking out for opportunities for the other one. To me, it was worth the risk and I can’t wait to see how God will continue to use us in each other’s lives.
What about you? Are you able to recognize the people you’re supposed to know? If you can, are you able to gather up the courage to introduce yourself? Go for it! You’ll be amazed when you realize what you can offer each other. I hope you’ll share your experiences with me by commenting below.