I am a passionate lover of people. Once, when asked in an interview what my greatest strength was, I answered, unashamedly: ‘people’- to the surprise of the serious-faced corporate person across from me. Thankfully she did allow me to elaborate on my answer, and because it was a heartfelt, genuine answer, she bought into it!
I do very much love people. ALL people. I love speaking to the cashier at the supermarket and asking her about her day; I like talking to the lady (or gentleman) sat next to me on the bus, I like smiling at babies and generally always start a conversation with their mums and find out how old their wonderful treasures are, which then leads to questions about their sleep patterns and eventually birth stories.
I guess it helps that I am also incredibly nosy; I hate not being in the know about anything. But I am genuinely interested in everyone’s stories, much to the chagrin of my introverted husband (sorry babe! #notsorry)
As a child, I was always tuned in to conversations that I wasn’t supposed to be listening to; and my parents found this quality about me incredibly dangerous. If they were sharing any information of great importance or secret, I would be listening. And as a child, I generally used to then repeat said confidential information! Not good for a couple who were regularly entrusted with most of their congregation’s secrets!
Growing up, this gift to listen and to be interested opened a lot of doors for me; but it wasn’t always my favourite thing about myself. Sometimes i’d really want to connect with someone. And the best way for me to do that is generally to ask a LOT of questions. And occasionally, people would misinterpret my interest for something not kind. As an interrogation, or as nosiness-and as they’d reject my friendship, this would really hurt. But each and every time, I would always get right back in, talking to people again- because it is my heartbeat.
Someone asked me once how I relax after a long and busy day; yesterday was a long and busy day.
I had spent the morning with OFSTED and being observed teaching at College , after picking up my son and dropping him off at home to my tooth-achy husband, I left for my second (the best in the world )job in the afternoon showing some visitors from Swansea around some projects that we work with in Manchester.
After dropping them off at their accommodation for the night I headed home to eat dinner, spend time with my children and husband and collapse on the sofa with a cup of tea, right? wrong!
After food, I realised that we had a parenting course that I had forgotten about but could cancel- but I am energised BY people. So the thought of giving up an evening of connecting with a new group of parents and exchanging anecdotes about the struggles of parenting was just too much of a temptation for me. So at 7pm, I was back in my car for the fourth time, heading out. To connect. With people. People. My strength. My weakness. My heartbeat.
There are times when I have quite frankly felt like I had nothing to give. Especially when i’m surrounded by people with incredible gifts- people who can sing, dance, people who are incredibly artistic, driven, organised, and efficient. I can quite honestly say that I have never felt efficient. or organised. The only thing I have ever really felt good at, was talking to people. Little did I know that this was the stick that God had given me that later, He would turn into a staff.
Today, I had the privilege of asking my Swansea visitors what their heartbeat was. It isn’t an easy question to answer. But they both knew what truly makes their heart beat. That thing that makes them feel alive. That makes them feel like they could stay up longer because of it. And when they naturally reversed the question, I didn’t have to think about it- I already knew. Because from a very young age, I have always loved being with people. talking with people. Hearing their stories. Making connections. And that, honestly, makes my heart beat.
What is yours?
Exodus 4: 2-3
Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”
“A staff,” he replied.
The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.”