Categories
christian counseling

Find joy in meeting new people

No doubt, I am a social person and meeting others comes natural to me, but it is something anyone can do even if it requires allowing oneself to be uncomfortable for a minute or longer.

This past weekend, I was with a friend exploring the beautiful town of Tryon, NC. We both love to hear others’ stories, which is probably one reason we love being therapists! While we were in an adorable bookstore/toystore/gift shop talking to the sweet owner named, Julia, an older man came in. Immediately he caught our attention because he had long white hair pulled back into a ponytail and a long white beard. He was wearing a tied eye shirt and jeans. I don’t often see white hairs wearing tied eye, like they were still enjoying the 70s, around where I live.

Before we began talking to him, I noticed he came in to pick up a copy of a book he wanted which was the same book my oldest son picked out. There is was, our commonality! Finding something in common with someone is a way into some great conversations! So our conversation began…

Julia introduced my friend and I to J. Alan Peoples, the infamous mayor of Tryon, NC. We finished our conversation with Julia, a lovely lady who will be in a Hallmark Christmas movie coming out this fall that was filmed in Tryon, and walked outside to see Mr. Peoples van.

It was exactly the van you have in mind for a man wearing a tied eye shirt and a white ponytail. It was this old Volkswagen van from the 70s or at least it looked like that (look at the featured image). It looked like so much fun to ride in and drive around. Mr. Peoples told us he bought the van for his beautiful wife who was sitting on the plush orange passenger seat. She loved it and he loved her.

As I talked to Mrs. Peoples and my friend talked to Mr. Peoples, I realized the Mrs. and I weren’t quite finishing our conversations which was totally fine. I can be very ADD at times in conversation, etc. so I wasn’t sure if it was me or her at first. After a while I could tell something was off, but I could also sense her kind heart and loving spirit. Later on after our great conversation with the mayor, his wife, and another local who walked up to say hello, my friend told me that Mr. Peoples said his wife had dementia.

The mayor had told us about his military service, teaching/coaching job, and position as major, but the most important work he does is caring for his wife. He said people asked him why he hadn’t put her somewhere and he said that is not what he wanted to do. He loved her and wanted to take care of her. He still does his jobs, but he takes her with him and the townspeople help him. Mr. Peoples said they all help take care of one another in their small town.

Wow, I loved this town. More importantly, I was reminded that when we stop and take the time to hear the stories of others, we can learn so much and be inspired to live out our stories in a great way by loving others. We were so encouraged by Mr. Peoples and the people in the town simply by taking the time to chat.

So, stop and meet someone new today even if you think what they are wearing or driving is very different from what you are wearing or driving….

Learn something new, be inspired, or be reminded about what really matters. As my friend and author of Sign to Story, Chris Smith says, “Embrace every opportunity God gives you to pour into the person standing in front of you.” As you embrace the chance to love others, you’ll find that you are also being loved!

I can’t wait to hear some of your stories! Message or email me!

Dr. Atwell

natalie@concord-nacounseling.com

Categories
christian counseling

Practical ways to seek unity with others

Terms like reconciliation and unity have seemingly been a part of the vocabulary and conversations of many over the past several months. During this time, we’ve all likely experienced a variety of emotions including anger, hurt, confusion, excitement for change, etc. Recently, I’ve been challenged to consider what “walking in unity” means as I read Psalm 133: 1 says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!”

First of all, walking is a verb as dwell is a verb. Therefore, the question we should ask ourselves is, how are we walking or dwelling in unity with others? Are we seeking relationship with those who are different from us? Are we actively taking steps to learn about people who are different from us? Are we stepping out of our comfort zone to meet new people and befriend others?

Over the years as a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor who is also a board certified professional christian counselor, I have counseled many who have been hurt by people who are different from them. These differences span from racial differences, cultural differences, family differences, differences in opinion, religious differences, differences within one’s own church, political differences, and a new one this year differences in responding to the COVID-19 (or the CORID as my mom calls it). Differences in the past that have led to behaviors that have cause hurt often lead people to shy away from getting to know others in a new setting.

Therefore, I want to recommend some tips for how we can seek unity and dwell in unity in ways that can help overcome hurt.

1-Get out of your comfort zone and initiate a conversation with someone different.

2-Invite your neighbor, co-worker, or family member, etc. who is different from you (race, religion, political beliefs, career/job, etc) out to lunch and get to know the person. Ask what they believe and why.

3-Change up your routines. Don’t sit in a same spot all the time. Don’t sit in the same section at church all of the time. Don’t just speak to the same people each week. Send a card to someone new or to an old friend. Walk down a different hallway at church. Take a different route on a daily walk.

4-Attend church or another cultural event with someone different from you and invite that person with you as well.

5-Volunteer with a local non-profit or even the local police or fire department to learn more about the people serving out community.

Finally consider memorizing 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 where Paul instructs us how our love for others should look as we seek unity.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

If we have this loving attitude and perspective, others will be drawn to the unity we have with God.

Have a great week,

Dr. Atwell