When I think about places I have traveled to, Greystones, Ireland stands out. If you were to Google Greystones, you would most likely see quaint homes lined along tiny streets and views of the Irish Sea along a grey sky. It is your basic Irish small town that is beautiful in its own way. To my knowledge, there is nothing about this small town that puts it on the map, but for Haley, my traveling partner, and me, we left longing to stay. We had some of the sweetest nights in that little seaside town, all because we made relationships that fostered intentionality and life-giving conversations.
We arrived on a late bus and were greeted by a friend of a friend who moved to Greystones recently. She squeezed us with a warm smile that made us feel like old friends. Her boyfriend’s family is from Greystones and still resides there in homes scattered about on the family property with the sea settled in the backyard. We spent our evenings with his family and friends. As rain drizzled on the roof, we gathered on couches, sipped hot tea, and watched in awe as two brothers turned a hole in the wall into a fireplace (literally – I can’t make this stuff up). We swapped stories and laughed until the cackle and pops from the fire died out. We asked questions that only long-time friends ask each other, we opened up, and in return, we climbed in bed late that night feeling at home in a new place.
For the next few nights we gathered in pubs, watched rugby, played trivia, and always shared conversations. We talked about our dreams, our stories, and how we got to be who we are today. In true Irish fashion, one night we even sang along with old men in the pub who busted out in old, well-loved songs. That moment especially got us; we couldn’t believe this was real life. Being in Greystones was not a visit, but an experience. With the locals’ warmth and welcome, we felt part of the town. From the grey, salty walks along the shore, to early mornings at the local grocer for hot oatmeal and fresh fruit. We left with hearts filled to the brim, in love with the charming town and its people.
If we didn’t know anyone in Greystones, Haley and I would have passed right through and continued to Cobh. But we took a chance, we reached out, and they embraced us. That family showed us hospitality, love, and comfort in its purest form, expecting nothing in return.
I can’t help but think about what relationships I could be missing out on because I am not putting myself out there. Or even more convicting, do I love others so extravagantly that it makes them feel Jesus’ love for them? That’s how I felt leaving Greystones, like I had tangibly experienced Jesus’ love from the intentional relationships. While we were strangers, from the beginning we were treated like family.
Jesus was different than everyone else because of how He treated people. Everyone who interacted with him walked away a different person, we see it throughout stories in the Gospels. The blind could see, the paralyzed could walk, and the sinners were free. Do people feel life after interacting with me? Not from my doing, but because Jesus’ spirit is so strong in me, it carries into my relationships.
I can’t imagine how Jesus made people feel in His presence, the comfort they felt, the hope, the grace, and the freedom. If I am seeking to be more like Jesus everyday, shouldn’t I seek to foster the same environment He did? I know I have failed in this, but I also know if my intention is to reveal more of Jesus through my relationships, God will bless it. So this is my challenge to you, friends. With each interaction, with each relationship, may we see them with the eyes and heart of Jesus. May we make others feel cozy at home in the way we treat them, even if it’s halfway around the world in an unfamiliar place. I have experienced it firsthand, and years later my heart still longs for those walks by the sea and conversations full of authenticity and grace. I caught a beautiful glimpse of Jesus in Greystones, Ireland, and I am forever changed.
words and photo by Lauren Grindstaff