I absolutely hated being locked down way back in March. With the threat of it happening again, I’m currently not thrilled about it either. It seems like a blur now as I look at those crazy Spring months. I was quarantining alone in my small studio in Cap Hill. Going to the grocery store with bare shelves was always a hassle and depressing. Zoom meetings and happy hours were fun at first but rapidly became fatiguing. The only time I’d see an actual live person was to go outside on my daily walks. Not a fun experience. People went far out of their way to avoid me on those strolls around my neighborhood. They wouldn’t even look at me when I tried to smile and say hello just trying to connect. It was as if they were going to contract Covid just by making eye contact. Sheesh.
I’d come home feeling worse, rather than refreshed. But, one day I decided to brave the feeling of “being a plague’ by walking a block to a small market to pick up a few things. It was nice then because masks were not required and you could still see people’s faces (which I miss horribly these days). A young man named John, with bleached white hair and a kind smile began ringing up my items. To my utter surprise he suddenly asked, “How are you holding up these days?” Wow—an actual live person not only acknowledged my existence, but also inquired how I was doing. I went home that day feeling “seen” with uplifted spirits. John became a comfort to me during my visits to the little market. I wish I could tell him in some way how he helped me through a rough season by doing something incredibly simple.
The God Who Sees and Listens
In my last blog, I referred to Hagar’s story in Genesis 16. After being abused by Sarah, Hagar flees into the desert alone, abandoned and pregnant. But God acknowledges her by calling her by name and comforts her. She gives Him the name El Roi—”the God who sees”. I am blessed by this story when I am in a season of feeling invisible as in the lockdown in March. God sees me. God bends His ear to listen. I am grateful and humbled by this reality. It reminds me of the encounter with John—”being seen” is very powerful in our lives. Where are places God sees us?
In Our Suffering
I feel most alone in the midst of personal suffering. I love Henri Nouwen’s reminder God suffers with us and we can find consolation in that reality. “Do you know where the word “compassion” comes from? It comes from the Latin word com, which means “with”, and passio, “to suffer.” “To suffer with” is compassion. Jesus manifests to us that God is a God who suffers with all of us. There is no human suffering in you or anyone else in the world that has not been suffered by God. Consolation begins with this knowing. God is suffering all human suffering.” Following Jesus pg.76
Our Worth & Value
I don’t know about you, but I tend to define myself by my flaws and failures. I thank God practically daily He sees me differently. He sees me to the core of who He created me to be, not just my sin. In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus is admonishing His listeners to focus on the things of the Kingdom rather than worrying. But in this passage He also describes the tender way which God cares for birds and adorns flowers. He repeats often how important we are and God will also take attentive care of us because we matter to Him.
Our Gifts, Calling and Vocation
I am grateful for being and working in the environment at Where Grace Abounds all of these years. Before I came I didn’t know who I was, just a lost soul. But being here has given me a place to recognize my own gifts and abilities and to have them affirmed by others. Author, Adam McHugh of “The Listening Life” encourages us. “This is no ordinary king. From the very beginning of the Scriptures we find a God who does not hoard power but shares it. Created in God’s image, humans are given the kingly responsibility of co-ruling creation, subduing it and representing the Lord to it.” (pg 34). God has given us all unique gifts so we might share in His mission.
Pretty Simple Really
It’s easy to laugh now at those painful moments of avoidance back in the Spring. There were occasions when someone literally went 12 feet around just to avoid me. It was in those moments I’d heartily yell “Dramatic much?!” I’m sure you’re not surprised by those words coming out my mouth. So, taking a few moments in someone’s life by just simply being attentive, listening and acknowledging them can have a great impact. It’s simple and doesn’t’ cost us much—why don’t we do it more often? For me, I know I’m very easily distracted, am in my own agenda mode and too busy with the stupid phone sometimes. I hope to make this a daily and prayer and practice for myself to really see those around me. I hope you will too.
Questions to Consider
Who in your life sees your gifts, calling, suffering?
What are some ways you can practice the gift of seeing and listening in some else’s life? Can you think of a person you’d like to give this gift?
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