We were celebrating my nephew’s birthday. Danny was turning two. His afternoon was filled with little kids’ birthday party favorites — cake, presents, streamers, lots of noise – attention. I realized I hadn’t seen his older brother around, so I went looking for 4-year old David. I found him sitting on the top step of the stairway, removed from the celebration, crying his little heart out.
Through deep staccato sobs and a snotty nose, David explained, “It’s hard for someone like me when it’s not my birthday.” Bless him.
That was over 30 years ago, and we still mercilessly tease David about that very typical childhood moment. But you know? There’s a whole lot of truth in what he said.
We each want to be seen. Noticed. We want to know that we matter.
Extrovert or introvert? It doesn’t matter. We all want to know that we haven’t been forgotten.
I have reminded myself many times the last couple months to stop and pay attention to the people around me. It’s not rocket science. And it doesn’t cost any money. But the magical results of reminding someone that they are seen – noticed – cared about? You can’t put a price on it.
Perhaps you’re experiencing some of the same emotions I am these days. My heart hurts over the isolation our elderly are experiencing when they live in a community setting. No visitors. No holding hands.
In our homes and on our streets, we are so busy talking that we’ve stopped listening. “I see your mouth moving but I’m paying attention to what I’m saying.”
For those of us on Facebook? Ooftah. Conversations are getting lost; scolding and shaming and opining take up the space.
And one of the common threads that continues to connect these scenarios?
We want to be seen. Heard. We want to be noticed.
So how about this …
We each have influence over someone in our little world. The people we live with and work with who are trying to make sense of things when so much has changed. The young girl behind the cash register whose feet are killing her. The stock clerk who has no control over the amount of product on the shelves.
How about if we really take the time to pause … look the other person in the eye … and just see them?
For those close to us? Notice their facial muscles as they explain what’s on their mind. Listen carefully for the message behind their message. Let them know that you care about them, even if you don’t agree with them.
For those we are just passing by? Thank them for showing up. Remember that they didn’t write the rules. We don’t know the stories they are living when they come to work.
Life is good and God is faithful. I still believe that.
The suggestions I posed here were written for me—behaviors I want to do better. We can figure it out together, OK?
I’m going to keep looking for the David’s who are struggling with feeling left out. I’m going to look them in the eye and listen. “I see you. I hear you.” You too?
P.S. Hearts are a little heavier these days, aren’t they? And … we will move through this season. We will see and listen and learn and come out the other side smarter, with greater empathy and understanding, and increased faith. Our communities will change as we change. And we will laugh from our bellies again and giggle like kids splashing in a wading pool. Watch for the joy.