Turning Strangers into Friends

I returned the sales girl’s compulsory “Hello, how are you?” with a genuine smile and my own “I’m well, how about you?”

Then I paused for her answer. 

Her eyes lit up as she scooted closer offering a “so great, thank you” before rattling off the deals that could not be missed. I listened, not because I had any intention of spending hundreds on a Kate Spade purse or perfume, but because she seemed thrilled that someone stopped to hear her, rather than rush on by.

We can become so focused on what WE think, see, and feel, that we grow desensitized to how much OTHERS need to be thought of, seen, and acknowledged too. How can you leave a bit of Jesus wherever you go? | Faith | Friendship | Kindness | Encouragement | Bible Quotes | Christian Blog |

Saturday afternoon, I spent the day meandering through the beautiful streets of La Jolla, California, just about an hour outside my own backyard. My husband was attending an athletic competition with friends, and while I’d been invited to join, I decided that strolling the beachside town superseded watching people sweat in an arena.

Yay, me.

Starbucks in hand, I savored the quaint shopping, cool sea breeze, and the pure joy of having no where else to be. There was a time in my life when this variety of “aloneness” or even declining that former invitation would feel difficult, awkward and intimidating, but this Saturday was not one of them.

Turning Strangers into Friends {simplyforone.net} Photo copyright Tiffany Parry

Turning Strangers into Friends {simplyforone.net} Photo copyright Tiffany Parry

Turning Strangers into Friends {simplyforone.net} Photo copyright Tiffany Parry

As I wandered shops and browsed for nothing in particular, something surprising began to unfold. I didn’t go looking for it, but quickly witnessed the beauty of meeting others with an open heart.

Kindness can turn strangers into friends.

{Click to tweet}

Breanna at the Kate Spade store moved beyond sales deals and shared her upbringing in North Carolina, her mom’s move to Chicago, and how much she misses family even though she’s fulfilling her own dream of living by the beach.

Sandra at Warwicks, a brick & mortar bookstore, appreciated my good manners when I requested a handle bag for my purchase. She’s so over rude youngsters, and delights that her grandkids, who she’d be loving on that weekend, are an exception.

The gal from hotel housekeeping seemed surprised by my authentic “please, thank you, and have a blessed day,” and urged me not to worry over the extra hour I requested to linger in my room after checkout time.

Turning Strangers into Friends {simplyforone.net} Photo copyright Tiffany Parry

Turning Strangers into Friends {simplyforone.net} Photo copyright Tiffany Parry

Friends, I’m beyond guilty of rushing through my days occupied and distracted. But these moments—embracing beauty, spreading kindness, and sharing stories—remind me that as God’s people, we need to stop to taste and see His goodness all around us.

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see,
how good God is. Psalm 34:8 MSG

Even more than appreciating and embracing God’s goodness for ourselves, we need to invest in others and leave a bit of Jesus wherever we go. Kindness, love, and plain ol’ common courtesy can go a long way in making someone’s day.

How can you leave a bit of Jesus wherever you go?

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We can become so focused on what WE think, see, and feel, that we grow desensitized to how much OTHERS need to be thought of, seen, and acknowledged too. 

A warm smile.

An open invitation to conversation.

The willingness to listen.

Perfect strangers eagerly opened their hearts and shared their lives, delighting in returning the most common kindness offered them. While I doubt I’ll see these sweet souls again, we shared a moment and parted glad for it. It makes me realize just how much we—human beings—crave connection and community.

It makes me remember just how much we—God’s sons and daughters—have the opportunity and the obligation to provide it.

If not us, who? As we go about our days, weeks, and lives, let’s remember to entertain strangers and welcome them as friends. Let’s even go a step further and invite our already friends a little closer too. It seems the sweetest way to taste and see that God is good. 

By His endless grace,

I’d love to get to know you more! You can join me for community, connection and more real conversation on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest. And if you don’t already, you can subscribe to the blog here for posts direct to your inbox.

You can also find these words linked up at my favorite spots: Jennifer Dukes LeeHolley GerthKristin Hill Taylor, Lyli Dunbar, Crystal Storms, Salt & Light and Grace & Truth.


40 thoughts on “Turning Strangers into Friends

  1. This sounds so simple. My people skills are lacking, I know they are. I’m an introvert so talking to strangers isn’t my thing, but I may, no, I’m going to try this. Thanks!

    1. The first step is the hardest, Heather…just getting over our own fears and insecurities. I’ve yet to have anyone turn away a smile or warm hello. Instead, they’ve seemed so grateful to be standing next to a kind person. Sad that we seem to be an endangered species these days! Do let me know how your extrovert adventures go.

  2. My friend, you have no idea how much this spoke to me. The part about it being uncomfortable walking around by yourself….still there. The part about engaging with others around you….yep….definitely need to work on that one too. This post was just what I needed to hear right at this moment. Thank you for sharing it at Salt & Light. I would love to feature it for this week.

    1. I’m so glad these words met you, Alisa. It can be challenging to open ourselves up to new experiences, cant it? I’m so grateful for a God of grace who knows our frame and has a way of opening just the right doors. I’m thrilled you’d like to feature this post. Thank you!!

  3. I’ve had similar realizations recently. How can we show Jesus to others without this slowing down and interaction with others you speak of? So glad you yielded to the Holy Spirit’s leading!

  4. “If not us, who?” Is so right. My Mom used to joke about how she must have a shirt that says, “talk to me, I’ll listen.” She inherited it from her mother and I think I have it too. I wish I always avoided distraction and listened to strangers though!

  5. I loved this Tiffany! Such truth here!!! I’ve been to La Jolla one time and it is so beautiful! I love that town! I love blessing others with a smile…it’s so easy and so memorable, and when we add a “hello, how are you?” when it is so unassuming, you’re so right– it blesses others, and us too! Thank you for linking up at Salt and Light!

  6. What a sweet day, Tiffany!! My husband and I just visited CA recently and were so thankful to slow down. We record little “trip tics” that cartoon our memories, and it’s always fun to look back and recollect the names and conversations of people we met along the way. I needed a reminder of this because even though my tendency is to make eye contact, be polite, and smile when interacting with strangers, I do get caught up in “me” and the “hurry,” missing these very opportunities to turn strangers into friends. Thank you, sweet friend!

  7. Yes— a little kindness goes an awfully long way :) It doesn’t even take very much effort on our part to make a stranger feel a bit special, noticed, and appreciated —but it’s so worth it! Thanks for this reminder (I needed it!) Your neighbour at #Salt&Light

  8. So true Tiffany! I am inspired to slow down as I go about my day to make the most of God’s opportunities for me as I encounter others. 👍😉 Thanks for reminding me of my moments to love on others, even if I don’t actually know them.

  9. Love this reminder so much! I’ve been telling myself lately, “people over projects”–I’m someone who loves a to-do list, but I’m learning to be more present with the people around me, including strangers and neighbors. And even when allowing little interruptions in my day, I’m realizing my to-do list still gets done (mostly ;) ).

    1. I’m a to-doer too, Kendra, and interruptions can really ruffle my feathers. God is also teaching me to practice presence and embrace the moments as they come. “Gracious interruptions” is what Oswald Chambers calls them, and it reminds me that God’s hand can be spotted in the unexpected too. Thanks so much for joining the conversation today. Blessings!

  10. Dear Tiffany,
    Thank you for these great encouragements to share kindness wherever we are. It makes such sense, when I really think about living like Jesus did. And, it makes such sense when I remember the times that I have received those gifts of kindness & felt so blessed, or the opposite and felt so torn down. I am praying to keep this reminder close, and watch for opportunities to share His love! Blessings to you!

    1. So true, Bettie. The presence or absence of those small kindnesses can make more of a difference in our lives than we realize. It’s a blessing to be able to share that gift with others. I’m praying and watching right beside you, friend. xo

  11. Tiffany, so beautifully written, I love how simple it should be: “A warm smile. An open invitation to conversation. The willingness to listen.” It doesn’t have to and shouldn’t be difficult to connect with others! Thank you for your inspiring words! I’m visiting you today from #TellHisStory Linkup.

    1. I know I’m guilty of making if far harder than it needs to be. Just today I said hello to a gal waiting in line for coffee ahead of me – and it felt a little awkward – but she opened right up and it led to a conversation where we found much in common. Go figure! Thanks so much for visiting, Debbie. I appreciate you!

  12. I so enjoyed this sweet story, and love your reminder of what a difference a few short minutes of our time makes in other’s lives. Just as they do in our own, when someone really “sees” us. I am headed to Riverside again soon, this makes me want to be SURE to hit the beach :) Blessings to you

    1. I’m in Riverside, Christa! What brings you to town? And yes, it’s a blessing to be able to invest just a little bit of time with someone in the hope that we leave them with a smile on their face. Thanks for stopping by and reading today!

  13. I love this reminder to keep my eyes open to the hearts of people around me (strangers included). Its so easy to get caught up in our own little world and miss the opportunities that God gives us each day! Great post!

    1. Thank you, Jessica. You’re right, it is easy to get caught up and our lives have plenty to keep up busy. I’m grateful that God gives us these doors to walk through to share His love with others. Thanks so much for visiting me today. Blessings!

  14. An open invitation to conversation. This caught my eye. Although I like to listen to other people’s stories, I’m shy or just plain uninterested in going out of my way to start a conversation with strangers. I know, as a Christian, it should be easy, but it’s not. Thank you for posting this as a reminder for me to be open for conversation.

    1. I hear you, Pirkko. By nature I’m an introvert, so it’s not always easy to initiate a conversation. I think the circumstances and the environment, as it was in my case, dictate it. The Holy Spirit has a way of prompting us when the time is right, and if we’re obedient to that leading, there can be some beautiful fruit. Sometimes just a simple “hello” makes all the difference. Thanks for stopping by today!

  15. I wholeheartedly agree! If not us, then who? Maybe no one. We have a job to do spreading the Gospel and the Love of God. We can’t do that if we are rushed, rude, or apathetic and inattentive.
    By the way, I love your picture of the bougainvillea! So pretty! :)
    Thanks for sharing these thoughts!

    1. Yes, yes – we do have a job to do, and we’re wise to approach it with the right heart. That lovely bougainvillea was perched on a home for sale directly across from the cliffs in La Jolla. I’d have to mortgage my whole block to buy it, so I settled for that photo! ;) Thanks for visiting today.

      1. I can understand that! You can bring the photo home with you and mount it on a wall in your affordable house, right!? :) And in the photo, it is always a beautiful day by the sea! Enjoy! And thanks for sharing with us so we could enjoy it also! :)

  16. Such great thoughts! The whole idea of talking to strangers, and showing Christ’s love to strangers throughout your day is something I have been wrestling with recently, and it is so encouraging to see your thoughts on the subject. Thanks for your encouraging post!

    1. It’s amazing how many people are surprised by common kindness and even a random hello. It’s sad and telling of our culture that seems to be growing more self focused. So glad that you stopped by today, Kathy. I’m praying God provides that perfect opportunity for you to share His love. Blessings!

  17. Tiffany, you are totally speaking my language here (why does that not surprise me?)! I love having conversations with people I meet along the way … everyone loves to be seen and listened to, don’t they?

    1. It seems they do! It felt fun and freeing to take the time to stop and listen. I pray they were as blessed by our moments together as I was. Thanks for being here my very likeminded friend. xo

  18. Tiffany, Your pictures brought back a recent trip we made to California. Kindness and courtesy, and interest in others is a wonderful way to bless others. You are right, we crave connection and want to be seen. Glad you had a relaxing day at the beach town.

  19. Hello, from your neighbor at Porch Stories. I have enjoyed your pictures. They are exquisitely beautiful. Your scripture, from Psalms, is on one of my favorite Christmas shirts (along with a picture of a half-eaten Christmas cookie). You are correct that others need our smiles, openness, and willingness to listen. There are so many hurting people, who could use some of Christ’s unfathomable love.

    1. Cookies are one of my favorite ways to taste and see goodness – especially if they are chocolate chip! I agree, Erin – we too quickly rush passed those who are desperately in need of hearing and knowing how much Jesus loves them. Thanks for stopping by today, neighbor.

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