We were breathing heat and talking hobbies as the reds and greens of Eastern Africa streamed by. Motley crew at best. A mix of missionaries, COTN interns, and gritty Peace Corpsers. All new and unsure and filled with make-a-difference-shoes and be-the-good heartbeats. (We should circle back around to how I broke up with missionaries and ran to the shelter of drinking cursing Zimbabwean farmers. But that is a story for another day.)
Hobbies. The topic has always made me itch because the not enoughs and the prove yourselfs try to take full control of the words I say in that answer. Everyone else in that car had answers normal people do: painting, journaling, sports. He looked directly at me, all six sweaty inches away in this overcrowded hatchback and asked it. What’s your hobby? A simple question I received as a challenge. I watched a sweat bead trace mazes through the freckles of his cheek as it rolled from temple to chin.
People. I enjoy lots of things. But people. They are my hobby. Knowing them. Watching them. Seeing them & allowing them to be seen.
I want to remember having said it with self-assuredness instead of the question mark it landed on as though begging him to show me with the nod of his head and slight shift of warmth in his eye that “people” actually is a thing. That was ten years ago. Can enjoying people be a hobby?What I do know is that my bend toward people has been there all along and God is teaching me the freedoms found in embracing the risk of looking ridiculous and just being me instead of being talked down with “don’t live too big”s.
Imagine for a moment standing at your high school locker. Senior yearbook in hand. Adequately pretty but not celebrated face and heart full of poetry and finding YOUR NAME in block letters winning the title of SENIOR SECRET CRUSH (or some such wording, I wasn’t super “in” or “into” high school to remember exact phrasing so just work with me here). If you are standing on the gray and white tiled linoleum in ironic saddlebacks before people wore things ironically, awash in shock and shyness, then you would be right. But I would look them all in the eye those years, the nerd and the stoner and the class hotty-bo-body and listen to what they were saying and genuinely enjoy each of them and smile. I couldn’t define how being known is attractive as an eighteen year old like I can now several life stages down the road. Our teenage selves knew it enough to acknowledge it.
Fifteen years later I still get shy though so I’m trying to remember to honor God and myself and you by not worrying so much about perceptions and just be. I get hugs and “hey, beautiful”s from my grocery store workers and I love that’s a part of my city life. My be-the-good heartbeat sounds a little different now than it did in that hot car as we drove past mango trees and thatch houses talking about hobbies, but I finally know my answer is a real thing.