Yesterday as we were walking out of a local store, my three year old turned around and started waving. I could hear his happy little “Bye!” and could feel the warmth in his voice. He was grinning from ear to ear and I didn’t have to see his face to know. I turned my head to see what he was waving at, and saw her.
Harry was waving goodbye to another woman in the parking lot. She was slightly older-looking than me, dressed in plain clothes. She had a tired look about her, and moved in the way that those walking through a difficult phase of life do. I’ve been there. Truthfully, I wouldn’t have given this woman a second glance. She would have merely blended into the background of my life.
But my young son noticed her. He SAW her. She was worth noticing.
How often do we pay attention to the people in our periphery? How many people do we never stop to notice?
I’m reminded of the lyrics to a Brandon Heath song called, “Give Me Your Eyes.”
“Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see”
How many times are we so quick to rush past the people in the same grocery aisle? How often do we silently pray the cashier won’t try to make small talk with us or desperately try to avoid making eye contact with the person standing on the corner? We don’t have time to see them. We don’t have time to notice. There isn’t time for pleasantries or even a, “Have a nice day.” There is only time for us.
It doesn’t stop with the unknowns – the random passersby. How often do we fail to act when we know one of our friends or acquaintances has a need? We might work to avoid eye contact or stay on the other side of the church of school pick-up line so we won’t have to listen. We ignore status updates, pretend we never saw emails, and screen our calls. There’s no time to make a meal, watch a child, or be a shoulder to cry on. Our time is too valuable. Our money and resources are too important.
Someone else will see them. Someone else will listen. Someone else will give. Someone else will care.
We all shift the responsibility onto another and remain happy and comfortable in our own world. We’ve protected our time and resources. And in doing so, we’ve slowly put up blinders, shrinking the view of our periphery each time we ignore a need. Every time we fail to act, we lose part of our vision. We ignore, we avoid, we claim we’re of no use in the first place. And just like that, we can’t see anyone but ourselves. The rest of the world disappears from our view. There’s only room for us.
I don’t know about you, but I want to increase my vision. I want to SEE those around me – not just notice them, but SEE them. I want there to be less of me, so there can be more for them. If there is a need I can meet, I want to meet it. When I have the ability to act, listen, serve, or give, I will. I will stop waiting for someone else.
Be the “someone else.” Be the one who will smile. Be the one to listen. Drop off a meal. Rescue road-weary parents and provide a date-night. Surprise a struggling family with a few Christmas gifts. Get involved in a ministry at your church or a charity organization. Help. Serve. Pitch in. Be a friend. Decrease so the love of Christ and the love for others can increase.
See the world through the eyes of Jesus. SEE them. Notice them. Love them. YOU. Not someone else. YOU.
*Featured image courtesy of www.galwaysimon.ie