People notice what you say – and what you do. And they notice whether or not those two go hand in hand, or if they contradict each other.
This is a big reality check for me. Am I saying and doing things that would make others feel loved? Or am I turning people off and away?
Here’s what happened – we were at the pool on a bright and sunny afternoon. We had taken advantage of the great weather and rode our bikes there.
Not even an hour into our poolside afternoon, it quickly got dark. Before we could come up with a plan, it was incredibly windy. The kids were asking me if we were leaving, and the wind was whipping the tree branches. My next thought was: CAN we leave the pool? Is it safe to ride our bikes home? My overactive imagination already saw in my mind my 8-year-old peddling through the sky in the middle of a tornado much like Miss Almira Gulch in the beginning of The Wizard of Oz.
There was a group of people in the pool’s shelter and concession area. Some of them motioned to us to come seek refuge in there.
It looked like a private party. I actually said, “Oh no…isn’t this a private party?” But they insisted. How kind, I thought. We would just stand at the door, wait for the storm to blow over.
Not long after, another woman came over and shortly stated, “This is a private event. We have reserved this area. Sorry, but you can’t stay here.”
I didn’t know what to say. I fumbled towards the first people that had invited us in. I mumbled something along the lines of, “Oh. Well. Wow. Thanks for being so considerate.” And we left.
On our way out of the pool lobby as we passed the desk, I relayed what happened to the pool employees. One of them said that it was a church that had that room. We made some good jokes about not wanting to be a part of THAT church that would kick someone out into a storm.
The kids and I made it home fine. Once home, I reflected on the experience. It was convicting and humbling and disappointing and silly in a way.
Now, I get it. You reserve the area, you want the area; no intruders. And then I reflected on the people that had invited us in to seek shelter from the storm. So warm and welcoming. And then I considered how I felt to be told to leave, after being welcomed in by someone else.
Why am I sharing this with you? Not to throw bad vibes to any one person or organization.
But more of turning that back toward myself: how many times have I (or you) been inviting? How many times have we been the ones kicking people out that we felt “didn’t belong?”
Today, we keep talking about showing love and kindness; being including and welcoming to others. So for me, I turned it inward: When have I been guilty for doing something similar to someone else, or said something to make them feel unwelcome?