To See, Or Not To See?

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The woman who arrested my attention was ancient. Clutching a cigarette in one bird-like claw, she waited to cross the street. The black wig she wore reminded me of one my great-grandmother had worn. Its vibrant color and youthful volume made her head appear two sizes too small. However, it was not the wig or the smoke which had snapped me from my internal musings. What caught my eye was that this woman was a superhero.

She was an Amazon princess superhero, to be precise. From her knee-high red boots and shiny star-spangled blue mini skirt to the trademark gold tiara, this woman was a wonder indeed. Thankfully, she had forgone the iconic Wonder Woman bustier. It was apparent that defying gravity was not one of her superpowers as parts of her anatomy had long ago ventured south. I did not note whether she sported the Lasso of Truth, or if she had bulletproof bracelets adorning her wrists. I was driving past and had but a moment to catch the details.

Had she been dressed as her alter ego, I’m sure I wouldn’t have seen her at all. In normal clothing she would be just another nameless, faceless person in the crowd.

Have you ever felt like just another nameless, faceless bit of humanity? I know that I have.  Especially as I’ve gotten older.  I was startled to realize sometime in my late 30’s that I had become invisible. I could walk through the store or the mall and not once have anyone make eye contact with me. I found it disturbing.

More distressing was the accompanying realization that I often treat others with the same indifference. My eyes are naturally drawn to youthful beauty or the radiance of children, but the vast majority somehow cease to be visible to my casual observance. I became aware that I was ignoring the elderly, cashiers, waitresses, and even fellow church members. Anyone who was not in my circle of comfortable acquaintances simply did not exist for me.

I found this realization horrifying.

Over and over scripture tells us to love others. We are to be the light of the world. People are supposed to be able to see the lavish love of our Lord in our words, our actions, and in our countenance. How can they see all that if we never look at them?

I made a deliberate decision to try to see people. When I walk past an elderly person in the store, I make eye contact and smile. I’m often met with surprised looks and it saddens me to see that they are used to being unnoticed and forgotten. When I go out to eat I look my server in the eye and ask sincerely how their day is going. Again, the startled look that flashes across their faces affirms that this is good and right.

As Christ-followers, we should exhibit a genuine love and concern for our fellow man. We get so caught up in the noise and busyness of our world that we forget this. We believe that being a light for Jesus means doing something grand or flashy and we simply don’t have the time or energy for that. We fail to see that the small acts are just as important. Eye contact, a smile, encouraging words, or taking a moment to pray with someone are all reflections of our God’s love.

The elderly Wonder Woman I saw has effectively fought back against the curse of invisibility. Everyone sees her; they can’t help it. And as beloved children of El Roi, the God Who Sees, shouldn’t we be helpless to do anything but see others?

“Owe nothing to anyone–except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.” (Romans 13:8, NLT)

“For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!” (Ephesians 5:8, NLT)

I’m linking up at Grace and Truth today.  Come on over and join us!

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20 thoughts on “To See, Or Not To See?

  1. Oh my goodness Rebecca, this is SO GOOD.
    Important to say, and you said it so well.
    This is one of my passions. Thank you for giving it voice.
    I am going to try and share it on my facebook page if that is OK with you.

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  2. I discovered this same thing myself a few years ago and I began searching out eye contact and then saying hi or smiling at the person… some people kind of look away then right back surprised that I would be smiling or talking to them. We have to be conscious and showing genuine love to our fellow man… great post!

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  3. An older woman once confided in me, “Believe it or not, I used to be quite attractive and received my fair share of attention. Now it’s as if I’m invisible.” Your post not only confirms her experience, but gives us easy-to-implement steps of rectification: “Eye contact, a smile, encouraging words, or taking a moment to pray with someone. All are reflections of our God’s love.” A poignant post, Rebeca, that challenges and inspires!

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    • Thank you, Nancy. I suppose we’ll all be fully in that invisible place if we live long enough, eh? Beauty is fleeting. It’s a good thing we’ll never be unseen by our Jesus.

      I find it interesting that my physical body is deteriorating and it will all be downhill from here on this earth. For the first time, I can really look forward to that new body I’ll have someday. The more worn this one gets, the better that one sounds to me!

      In the meantime, may we remember to seek out the eyes of the invisible ones around us. May our smiles and our attention shine the love of Christ into their hearts, yes?

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    • Thanks for reading. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I’ve heard several people say they’ve been pondering similar thoughts. Perhaps our Lord is calling us to engage more, yes? Blessings to you–

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  4. Love your writing style, Rebeca. And I so agree…we are just so busy in life, that we don’t want to bother to really see people. Looking is not the same as seeing, just as hearing is not the same as listening (oh, that sounds like one of those horrendous SAT questions…what did they call those things…this is to that as this thing is to choose the best of the 4 answers that simultaneously all fit and don’t make any sense).

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  5. Mmm, yes, this is good, Rebecca! There is an older, single lady at our church who always wants a hug. I’m not normally a hug-everyone-everywhere type of person, so at first, I wasn’t too keen on it. But one day the Lord struck me with this question: how often do you suppose she gets touched or hugged? And this one: how would you feel if you went days or even weeks without being touched? Ever since that day, I welcome her hugs. Even now, I’m convicted that I need to go visit her. What you’ve shared here is so important! Thanks for linking with us at Grace and Truth.
    Jen 🙂

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  6. It’s very true that we get caught up in the noise and in the activities of life and never really take the time to appreciate those around us. Some people just want someone to look at them, smile and start a conversation. It’s through these conversations that we can impact someone’s life.

    Thanks for sharing!!

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  7. It’s funny I was just thinking this morning that maybe I should start taking my kids to nursing homes and love on the elderly. I don’t have time. And therefore it means I must make time. Your post encourages me to do so. My Mom is an elderly lady in her early 80’s. She is a lovely person. She goes to the same Walmart all the time and knows everyone that works there.. Guess what? Every time I go visit her. She tells me detailed stories about how the people at Walmart visit with her and shop with her. My mom’s post lady is also a sweet lady to my mom. They write little letters to each other. My mom will put little surprises in the mailbox for her. The mail lady checks up on her often too. These little things help my mom keep going. She is a widow and it really is a lonely time for her. It’s not easy for her to get out. But when she does – people are so kind to her. It really does matter when we reach out to others.

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    • What a blessing that your mom has so many kind people in her life! Thank you for sharing the details. It really illustrates how the small kindnesses do make a difference. Blessings to you, Lisa. I hope you have a wonderful weekend! 🙂

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