July 16, 2012

Notice

I was only a few months into my freshman year of college, trailing the sidewalk past Simpson Drill Field, across the railroad tracks, and onto West Campus for a mid-morning class. I was lonely, too far from familiarity and not near enough yet to where I belonged, and I felt it deep in my bones as I readjusted my backpack and kicked the leaves at my feet. My fellow students walked by, most saying the obligatory Aggie "Howdy", some looking me in the eye but none really seeing. I just wanted someone to see, that was all, someone to notice me and love me and help me belong.
It was just a silent whisper, a quiet comfort, and I remembered that I was not alone, that He would never leave me all by myself. And I thought then with striking clarity about how I couldn't think of one person who didn't want the same things I did: to be loved, to be noticed, to belong. What joy flooded my heart when I realized that I was holding in my heart the very gospel that answered every longing, both my own and those of every person passing me on the sidewalk. The gospel and its author bring us in, offer unquenchable wells of love, and refuse to leave us on our own ever again. And with that thought welling up inside of me, I looked passersby in the eye and really saw. 

I want that same zealous vision now, where I notice those whose smiles hide hurts or are standing on the outside looking in. I want ears to hear what she is not telling me that desperately needs to be said. I want to discern when someone is losing heart or turning away from their one true Hope so that I can come alongside. I want to notice those who are different from me, younger or older, and those who need to hear that they are loved by God. I want to ask good questions and respond with grace and truth and really love.

Sometimes, like that day walking across campus, my desire to be noticed gets in the way of my noticing. I get stuck in my head, wondering what people think of me or if they think I'm enough. In an unhealthy way, I want to be thanked, appreciated, or supported. I start wishing to be noticed, desperate for a word of approval or encouragement, so much so that I notice nothing but the godless insecurities echoing in my head. I am looking to be noticed in all the wrong places. 

The only answer, always, is to go back to noticing: noticing what God is saying and noticing where He is pointing to the needs of others. If I notice, I am quickly swept up in the joy of hearing His approval and the realization that I can give His approval away to others through the hope of the gospel. 

We can bring hope to others. And it all begins with noticing.