I wandered far enough into the room to get away from the coat rack and door, where everyone else was coming in and hanging up their stuff. Finding a space on the wall, I helped prop it up and surveyed the room. Dance class would begin in ten minutes, and I was feeling the absence of my fiancé. He was in a university course and would join me later. Until then, I’d be doing the Level 1 dance class by myself.
I don’t like dealing with crowds. Usually I find it hard to strike up conversations with strangers and find things in common. I pictured myself standing there, looking like the wallflower I was, until the class started and I could hide my shyness in the busyness of doing something—dancing like everyone else. I tapped my toe to the waltz music and eyed the guys scattered around the room, wishing they would ask me to dance and yet wishing they wouldn’t. I don’t like dancing with strange guys, but it would be better than standing by the wall.
Then another person stepped up beside me, gave me a hesitant smile, and commented on my multi-coloured nametag. She was pulling hers out of her pocket and sticking it on her blouse, and it was also multi-coloured. We had some things in common. We explained to each other why we were taking both levels and discussed the dance classes we had taken before. She talked about her ex-boyfriend/friend whom she dances with, and I mentioned my fiancé. Then another fellow joined us, with his own multi-coloured name tag. We talked and joked until the dance instructors called us to start.
The next week I was putting on my shoes when my new friend showed up. We said hello to each other and then noticed we were both wearing crosses; mine a small silver crucifix, hers a gold cross on a longer chain. She eyed mine for a minute before commenting she liked it. I thanked her, and we talked about dancing before she asked about what church I went to. We had more things in common: a mutual Friend. We discussed churches and faith until dance class started.
That isn’t the first time that my faith has been a doorway to meeting new people. When I started university a few years ago, I felt just as lost and out-of-place as I did at dance class. Chapel was not only a comforting place but a good study break. It also became the place where I could join my friends. And the cross I wore then had been the way I’d met my fiance. He has no problems starting conversations with strangers and finding things in common, and he turned around to ask about my cross.
When I was on a tour in Australia, I quickly noticed the WWJD bracelet hiding under the tour guide’s sleeve. We discovered we shared a liking for Amy Grant and she took the chance of asking me if I was a Christian. We were the only two Christians on the tour and that brought us together as friends. She was the first Christian I’d met there, and I was the first Christian she’d had on a tour. She was able to share her frustration with not being able to mention her faith while working, and I was thrilled to feel like I was no longer alone down there.
When I started dating my husband, we had fun finding out how many things in common we shared. Dancing was one of those. I’d always wanted to learn ballroom dancing and so did he. We also both enjoyed going to museums (as we did for our first “official” date) and watching movies, hiking and live theatre. And it was all those things in common that made me crazy enough to say yes to him.
As dance classes continue, I’m starting to get to know a few of the other dancers who also get there early. We talk about dancing and ask about each other’s weeks. Most of those acquaintances will be gone when dance class ends. But I know I will have those friends who share a connection of faith with me for a very long time. Even into eternity.
How do you find things in common with those you meet, to form new friendships?