By Charlotte Jackson, Contributing Writer
Have people ever told you that they think they know you? Have you ever been told that you look familiar? For me, it has happened at least four times this week. When in public recently, people have told me that they think they know me or that they recognize my face, but cannot recall my name. I jokingly tell them that they don’t recognize my picture from a poster of the most wanted fugitives on the post office wall.
As I walked into a local business on the east side to work on a project, at least 14 people walked in and stopped to talk. And 13 of the 14 people immediately offered a hug. Anyone who has been around me, knows that I am a hugger. My friend Diane and I recently attended a training for those who are working to end human trafficking in our city. We had connections with many who attended. After the training, we stopped to eat at an establishment in Northwest Houston and received hugs from the owner. For at least 20 of the 25 years that the restaurant has been open, I have tried to return at least four or five times a year. Why? Because you cannot help but feel the presence of God while eating there. From the owner to the busboys, there is such a genuine and welcoming spirit. This is rare, so when I experience this, I make it a point to go back.
Attending events in this city, I meet people from different backgrounds and am genuinely concerned about what is going on in their lives. Many times talking to people, my children have been with me, reminding me that we need to be somewhere else in a few minutes. However, I have come to realize that when you take the time to be real, honest, and caring, God stretches your time. Whether it is 10 minutes talking to a single parent who is struggling or a young person wanting to know how to get involved and make a difference, the time is ALWAYS well-spent.
Several months ago, I was visiting with a district manager of a local business. He was telling me that his store managers were looking for a way to make a difference in the area, but since it would be with their own money, he was not sure what they could do. That conversation led into talking about looking customers in the eye, being honest, and simply listening. He stopped by this past week to share that he had asked each store manager to get to know at least one customer since our conversation. Since then, not only have sales increased in those stores, but the crime rate has gone down. Simple gestures can make a difference.
Of nearly 20 years working at a local community college, I have seen a change in the population. Yet, when a past student returns with their teenager and expresses how they remember you as someone who cared, that feeling is indescribable. When young people come to me with a question or concern, I cannot help but to put myself in their shoes and take a few minutes to get to know them. I want them to know that if they ever need anything, I will be there to help. And in the last week, with only four days of class, I have already met at least a dozen students who I know will be lifelong friends.
Make it a point to take the time to look into the eyes of someone and truly listen to their heart. Live each day with intention. Live each day being the best you that you can be proud of.