I went to a party last night. You know the kind, one where everyone knows everyone, and you don’t. The kind where you immediately begin trying to get a drink because at least you know you’ll have something to do. That uncomfortable kind where you cycle through all the childhood insecurities that you never learned to deal with.

Fear. Anxiety. Insecurity. Pain.

The golden rule, that all to often stated yet rarely applied statement that encourages us to be to others, everything we secretly wish they would be to us. Jesus’ beatitudes were all just eloquently stated applications of the golden rule.

Except we are selfish.

So last night, I wanted to have a good time, and sit around and talk with some knowledgeable gymnastic people. I wanted to have interesting conversation. I wanted not to have to impress anyone. I wanted to welcomed, and enjoyed.

I wasn’t.

But, if you want to have friends, you must be friendly. If you want to celebrated, you must celebrate others, if you wish to be comforted, you must comfort others. If you want to be interesting, you must be interested. And, if you wish to seem genuine, you must be genuinely interested, concerned, friendly, and giving to others. It isn’t give to get. It isn’t be a friend so I’ll have plenty in a greedy self-comforting sense. No, it is genuinely seeking others happiness above your own…in other words…selflessness.

So, at the party I looked around to find the person who looked the most lonely. I found him. This man was sitting all by himself, literally in the corner, and he had a look as if he was un-happy. I went and asked to sit with him.

As it turns out, he was a wonderful man. He hasn’t been to a national championship in some years, and has just been steadily growing his business. We had a pleasant conversation and we genuinely enjoyed each other. Soon our table was full, and a comfort settled on him, as did a smile.

His and my nationals experience was better for the exchange. And for me, a huge lesson learned.