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See Someone Today

Posted on Jun 30, 2014 by in Art, Faith, Family | 5 comments

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Susanna says, “I see you!”

For my 31st birthday, my mom, dad, brother, and nephews joined our crew of six at my house for an evening party. We ate my favorite food, pizza, the kids played in the backyard, and the adults sat around visiting and laughing in the living room.  I had asked everyone to bring a memory instead of a gift, and everyone did. My 91 year old grandpa brought a small stack of pictures he had carefully selected, pictures containing me or other family members that would be present that evening.  We passed them around with plates of cake and remembered old times.  My mom brought along mementos of my childhood, awards and pictures, and a tiny, thumbnail-sized picture of newborn me taken the day of my birth in the hospital.  I tried to keep it, but she wouldn’t et me. We discovered that our soon-to-be second-grader Abby looks just exactly like second-grade Ashley.

This is what I treasure most in life, these times with loved ones. We see one another, listen, talk, laugh and remember. This is what I love and value.  I felt seen and loved that day.

Yet, when my life gets too full of stuff and my schedule gets too full of busyness, these are the first things to go. Life becomes survival.  People get taken care of, but not necessarily seen.

And I am guilty. I am guilty on so many levels. I am guilty of letting my life become too busy, too cluttered, too stressful to send birthday cards on time, to make phone calls to my grieving grandfather, to sit down and listen to someone without glancing at my watch or phone. I am guilty of letting my heart get so cluttered with anger, bitterness, and anxiety that I don’t have room for anyone else’s grief or joy or needs. I am guilty of saying I will pray and forgetting. I am guilty of picking up my phone to idly browse the internet but not making a phone call I need to make. These actions do not align with my values and I grieve them.

But I am chasing hard after change right now. This is why I am so passionate about minimalism. I am clearing out room to practice what I value most. I’m chasing my own emotional health so I can love others more fully. I’m practicing saying “no” to expectations from others that don’t fit so that I have room to say “yes” to the things God is calling me to do.

I believe the people in my life are put there by God, and I want to see them. Really see them.

I walked into Wal-Mart last week with Abby, Isaac, and Susanna in tow, and the greeter, an elderly man, cradled his arm in a sling. I stopped and asked him what happened. He told me that a woman hit him with her car in the parking lot. I was astonished.

Hit you with a car? I exclaimed.

Yes, he said, I was wearing my [neon] vest and everything. I was yelling at her to stop, but she didn’t stop.

So, she just didn’t see you? I asked him.

He shrugged. The pain of the incident, physical and emotional, was evident on his face.

That’s what she said.

I could tell he was skeptical.

Whatever happened that day, this was clear:  He didn’t feel seen.

The line of people-traffic was struggling to get around us (to get into Wal-Mart! And buy more stuff!), but I ignored it. I looked at him and he looked at me, and we locked eyes.

I am so sorry that happened to you. It must have been really scary. He nodded silently; he seemed taken aback and wordless. Later, we connected again as I was leaving the store with my cart full of groceries and my nerves full of kids. He made sure Isaac didn’t run out into that same crazy parking lot where he was injured.

I hate that he wasn’t seen that day by the woman in the car. I am sure she didn’t mean to hit him, probably would never have hit him on purpose.

But sometimes we cruise through our lives at such a breakneck pace that we do hurt people, even when we don’t mean to. Sometimes we hurt them most just by not seeing them in their pain, and acknowledging it.  Saying, “Yeah, that does hurt. I am so sorry.”   Sometimes we are a 31 year old mom with four kids who is so busy chasing them  she feels like she doesn’t have time to stop and look someone in the eye.

She doesn’t have time not to.  She’s learning that, slowly.

See someone today. It may be the sweetest grace you could give.

Acknowledge their joy/hurt/sorrow/anger.

Ask for someone to see you, too, if you need that.  They may have no idea you feel invisible.

If we do nothing else in life, no great accomplishments, I believe we can live a truly great life, just by seeing the people around us.

See someone today. Be seen.  Be loved.

If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:13

 

 

5 Comments

  1. Ashley this is a beautiful, perfectly timed post. God has been shouting these same things to me lately. I am definitely sharing

    I am working on a post on a similar theme right now. I love when I see others leraning the same things I am and their words help me leran it better!

    Keep writing- you have gift!
    I SEE it! 🙂

    Emily

  2. OK, here’s a little more complicated comment…

    “Ask to be seen, if you need that.” You said.

    Oh my goodness this is so hard! I was just asking God if it is even OK to WANT this- or it is just pride? But then I switch it around- is it loving to offer the gift of SEEING others? YES, a thousand times yes. So it must be ok to want to be seen (though of course, as with all things, there is sin and pride mixed in…)

    So, if you need to be seen, ask, you say. And I say… HOW?

    • This is such a great question. I think it’s more than OK to ask to be seen–it’s very, very brave. Because for some of us, especially mothers, to let others know our needs is very vulnerable and very human. So–how? I did this with my birthday. I asked for everyone to come to my house and bring a memory of me. I asked to be seen and celebrated. It felt a little awkward and was received a little awkwardly by some. But no one said no, everyone came, and everyone brought a memory. It just takes being vulnerable and brave enough to ask. We start small, with our closest loved ones, and we start with these words, “I need…” Then we expand from there. Love ya Emily!

      • Also Emily? I loved how you turned it around to answer your own question, and it’s worth repeating: if it’s ok, and genuinely blessed to SEE and acknowledge others, then it’s ok to ask to be seen, too. It goes back to voicing our needs, which is so, so important and so overlooked in the Christian community. But many times, when Jesus interacted with people, He said, “what do you want from me?” Or “what do you want me to do for you?” Surely He knew, but he wanted the soul to speak it, to ask him, because the asking itself is faith. We think it might be more spiritual to sit back and wait to be seen, and certainly there is time to do that, but only if you are already operating out of pride and God is convicting you to humble yourself. If not, you are probably operating out of lower self-worth than He would want you to have, and you must reach out and ask Jesus and others for what you need, acknowledging in that act that you are human, you hunger and thirst, and you are worth being fed.

        • This is great Ashley. And SO hard on my pride. You are right… sometimes we stay invisible when we need, and under the guise of being humble, when we’re really just being proud. I know I do this- and I know how it turns ugly quick- resentment, pouting, etc.

          Your birthday idea was genius, and if I might suggest… worthy of a separate post in itself!

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