Twisted Familiarity

cat-and-dog-friends-001-700x454A while ago I went to get a routine haircut at my usual barbershop in the neighborhood. They know me there so I usually don’t have to explain my shaving style every time I am there. However, this time I found a new barber and he asked me in Swahili how he should shave me. I looked at the poster on the wall with shaving styles and said number 35 in English.

He seemed not to understand me. Again I said thirty five. He pointed at different styles trying to find what I wanted but I realized we were a long way from finding my style. I got up and pointed at my style and that’s when he said the number in French and I realized that he wasn’t an English speaker. I greeted him in my little broken French and he informed me he is from Congo and has been in Kenya for almost two years.

We went on to speak a lot in Swahili as he shaved me. I told him of my Congolese friends from the past and his face lit up as I mentioned their names. The strangest thing that hit me is that I suddenly felt I trusted him with my hair more than I would do with a Kenyan barber. It was a deep sense of relaxation and I know it has nothing to do with his great shaving. As I walked home later from probably the longest and most careful shave I have ever had, I couldn’t help but wonder why I trusted him more. Why have I never trusted a Kenyan barber like that? It just hit me how hard it can be to appreciate your own.

Sin of familiarity

How hard is it to appreciate those people who are around you? This made me think of the sin of familiarity. It is basically when we are not able to receive from people whom we are familiar with. It makes us miss out on a lot of blessings. I guess the people in Jesus’ hometown suffered from this sin. Jesus was not able to perform miracles there because they could not believe him. They could not believe him because they knew him. They said things like, isn’t this the son of Joseph that we know. They missed out because they ‘knew’ him. I can only imagine the kind of miracles Jesus would have performed there if they believed. I believe they would be greater than other places as Jesus would be doing to his own people.

Is it possible?

I guess the big question is this; is it possible to actually know people and still appreciate them? This means that you know their strengths, weakness, highlights and downfalls and you still accept them the way they are and you are able to receive from them. On the other hand what does it say about our character when we are only able to appreciate strangers? I believe we should appreciate everyone but there is a greater blessing in appreciating those near us. This is simply because we are able to receive from them more since they are accessible to us. The blessing is always near. From the testimonies of those who have learned to appreciate their spouses, marriage is heaven.

In a more logical way of looking at it, there is always a bigger blessing in doing things that are generally difficult to do. It is generally hard to appreciate the people that we know well. They have probably hurt us at one point, taken advantage of us or pushed us to the wall. Appreciating such kind of people takes a strength and power bigger than ourselves and when we are able to do it with God’s help, we grow, our relationships are healed and we are able to receive blessings we never knew thought existed.

The challenge for you and I is to identify close people in our lives and by word and action let them know that they are appreciated. This maybe your mum, dad, siblings, friends, colleagues, church members, your local shopkeeper, watchman and yes, even your barber/hairdresser. Be intentional about it, appreciate people and watch God work wonders in your relationships.

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