Yesterday I was greeted by a package on my porch with one sentence scrawled on it: “you made a difference today, Cara.”
It made me smile. Whether they knew if I truly made a difference didn’t matter. What mattered is they had taken the time to encourage me. Someone spoke my name, wrote it on a box, and thought good thoughts of me.
It reminded me how we all long for this – whether it’s from the boxes on our porches or over morning coffee in our kitchens. Being seen and heard by those around us breathes life into our days. It shows us we matter and our earthly participation is significant. This is such a simple thing, yet it’s also the easiest for me to forget.
When I put my phone away at the checkout in the grocery store, I see the cashier’s face and name. I can notice that it’s an unusual spelling and it prompts an interesting conversation about what their mom imagined when she named them. I can look into their eyes and notice what kind of day I guess they are having. I can admire something wonderful in them. By being present, I can see them and be with them, even if only for a few minutes.
One of the kindest things we can do for each other is to connect what we hear to what we can guess others feel. My friend Beth is next level at this. We were walking together recently and I shared the ordinary news of my days. As a good listener does, she pointed out the impact of things I clearly glossed over. She was able to see the heaviness of the decisions on my spirit. She saw me, she heard me and invited me to notice the hard thing too. In the noticing, I felt like I wasn’t facing things alone. She didn’t try to fix it or change it, but she was willing to be with me in it. She gave me the gift of being willing to sit right next to me in my messy situation, even though it wasn’t glamorous or social media worthy.
If we are serious about doing our one precious life well, being professional see-ers and hear-ers may be the main thing. We may be extraordinarily busy and importantly consumed by all the life stuff. I get that we all have places to be and significant stuff to do. Yet I know every one of us longs to be seen and heard. If it’s truly one of the most life-giving things I can do, why aren’t I doing it more? Why isn’t it the biggest, fattest, priority item I put first in bold letters - to see and be with the people I cross paths with?
If you want an example of someone who was fantastic at being with the people before him, check out all the people Jesus deeply saw. The Bible is loaded with examples of people going to great lengths just for his gaze to rest upon them. We all long for that personal touch, a deep glimpse, a personal word, or a heartfelt encouragement with those we meet and spend time with. We long for those around us to truly see us.
The truth is it doesn’t take much time to look people in the eye, to put down my phone or my work or laundry, to stop in the midst of the chaos and be deeply where I am and richly aware of the people around me. It doesn’t take much to notice who is in our midst and the good things they do to bless our lives. We all long for someone to see us, truly see us, in the midst of our busy days. What a gift to do that for someone else today. To be able to pause long enough, get outside of my head and checklists to notice someone else and their wonderful qualities.
My most important daily “to do” is to be present to who is before me, in love.