Lessons from Porch Pirates and Speed Walkers

treasLet me begin with a disclaimer: I am not a “Porch Pirate” nor do I in any way endorse snatching packages from anyone’s front door stop (or any other illegal activity, for that matter!).

But the rampant acts of porch piracy occurring as so many of us skip the holiday crowds at the mall for the convenience of online shopping has me thinking….

Those porch pirates don’t know what they have until they take the time to open the package.

Since I order absolutely everything on line, if a pirate dared pillage my porch, she might open the package to discover anything from cat litter to a plumbing tool to de-clog the bathtub drain, to the awesome Surface Pro computer I ordered a couple months ago to use for my writing and graphics.

But what would happen if my fictional pirate stole all 3 of those packages from my porch. Let’s say she opens the cat litter (poor resale value and she’s a dog person), and the drain snake, and decides it’s not even worth her time to open the third package so she tosses it in the trash.

Little does Ms. Pirate know that she just tossed an expensive piece of electronics aside because she assumed from her past negative experiences with the other packages that it wouldn’t be worth her time to open the box.

Now, we may not be porch pirates (I hope not, anyway). But I’m afraid we still have the tendency to leave so many treasures undiscovered.  

Unlike my “porch pirate” illustration, the real treasures are not in packages of factory-made trinkets swiped from a randomly selected doorstep and not even intended for the one who opens it. (Deep down I think we all know that all these things we work so hard for are not treasures at all – though modern culture and advertising tries very hard to make us think so). But the treasures we so often let walk by us undiscovered are people…. so many very amazing people we encounter day to day.

We don’t invest the energy to look beyond the weary smiles, the hi-how-are-you-I’m-fine’s to explore all the amazingness our Maker has put in the story behind the eyes of each person we pass by. 

Many of us on most days walk right by our opportunities to connect with incredible people and their amazing life-stories that our Maker intentionally placed in our path to encourage or teach us.

Instead, we typically move by others quickly missing these many opportunities to connect with our Maker’s fingerprints all over the story of their lives. Perhaps we don’t even see them. Our gaze may be fixed to our phones as we busily “pseudo-connect” with others in our make-believe social media world. Or, we may be working hard to get the-stuff that will someday be dust instead of connecting with people who bear the eternal mark of our Maker on their very souls.

A recent example of a treasure once ignored but now appreciated is a woman I often see walking near my workplace at lunch time. She first captured my attention because she walks like she means it! The main evidence of this is the fact that “typical” women’s uncomfortable, high heeled, pointy-toed work shoes (by the way…. if God meant for our toes to point and our feet to be at our uncomfortable angle – He would have made our feet like that) have been replaced with serious athletic shoes. Also, her walking pace is probably double the speed of my typical running pace. And, she’s typically very-focused – “in her own space” as she walks with earbuds firmly in place. And, she is doing this every single day! (This is probably what had me most impressed since sustaining a disciplined and consistent healthy lifestyle is one of my main – although sometimes illusive – goals in life).

So, I felt Maker prompting me to connect with this lady. I didn’t for days. My excuses were like, “She’s listening to something on those earbuds – I don’t want to disturb her”. The real reason is that I probably didn’t want to interrupt my own lunchtime pursuit of junk food and junk posts on social media (insert eye-roll here) so I don’t have to actually connect with people and face my own insecurities and fears of possible rejection. But I finally gave in to that ever-persistent “still small voice” and was I ever in for a treat!

On the day that I broke both of our strides of our normal lunchtime routines to make eye contact with her and say hello – she wasn’t perturbed with the intrusion at all. Instead she paused her gait, removed her earbuds, and smiled a most fabulous smile at me. I shared with her that I am trying to develop a healthy life-style and get moving more and that seeing her being so consistent with her walking everyday inspires me. She beamed. And then, the treasure of her story was opened to me. She shared that she had at one point weighed close to 600 pounds (and I would guess she is at least a good 400 pounds less than that now). Her persistent and consistent walking was part of what literally saved her life. Now when we pass, I try not to break her awesome stride, but our eyes meet and we smile and greet. Daily I remember and am inspired by her incredible story that I would have completely missed if I had not taken that moment to connect.

I have a feeling we wouldn’t have to binge watch Netflix so much if we took a little more time to enter into the amazing stories behind each other’s eyes.

img_2553I challenge you and I challenge me to take the time to connect with the people God places in our path today. Taking even a few minutes to connect with that cashier, that person on the walking trail, the man behind the counter at the DMV (I mean  – you waited an hour or more to see him – you might as well chat with him a bit) – might unwrap the very story you need to fuel your own journey today.

Calling that friend from church who has missed more than a month of Sundays, or taking the time to chat with your dog-walking neighbor, or calling (not texting) that family member who you’ve not spoken with a while will not only bless them, but you’ll probably unwrap a story in them that is just what your own soul needs, too!

We are designed to connect, so please don’t move through life so quickly that you miss the beauty of another human’s story. I promise you, a real life encounter with someone living and sharing their story is way better than anything we might watch on one of our many glowing screens.

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