Tag: noticing

Do You Feel Like You’re Wearing an Invisibility Cloak?

Do you ever feel like you’ve accidentally put on Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak?

A few years ago a couple of people made an appointment with me.  I didn’t know what their agenda was.  When we met all they did was ask me questions about a painful experience.

And then they listened.

And asked more questions.  And listened some more.

They asked, “and then what happened?” and “how did you feel?” and “oh no!” and “what can we do?” like it really made a difference to them.

And here’s the thing.  Yes, what was asked and answered was important, but the most transformative thing for our relationship was that when I walked away I didn’t feel invisible anymore.  It felt like I mattered.   What I thought, what I felt, the pain I had experienced made a difference to them.  Have you had an experience like this?

A few years ago my husband and I had the opportunity to spend some time with former President Clinton in a couple different contexts (no he would not remember my name!).  Regardless of what you think about his politics or his morals, here’s a man who makes people feel like they matter.

We were wrapping up an interview with him when he saw an African American guy with a saxophone that was about 189 years old in a back hallway.  Clinton got so excited asking this guy about the brand of sax he played, and the type he used to play, and the music he liked.  He laughed and they swapped sax stories and he asked questions and really listened.

Clinton was so present it was hard for his handlers to tear him away.  One of the most powerful men in the world.  And he was saying to this man, “I may be the president of the United States, but you matter too.”

This is Joe.

He’s a guy with Down’s Syndrome who has a great smile and a can-do spirit.  He’s the guy who sweeps the stairs at exactly the same time every morning at my health club.  When I first asked his name he looked scared, like he had done something wrong.

When I thank him each day for his great work he always looks a little surprised.  Today I took another step and asked him, “Joe, how long have you worked here?  Do you like your job?”

I’ve noticed Joe.  I’ve tried to let him know he matters.  But how many others do I miss during the day who are longing to be noticed?  Feeling like they’re accidentally wearing and invisibility cloak?

What if Jesus hadn’t looked up to see Zaccheus?  What if He hadn’t taken time to talk to the woman who touched the hem of His robe?

When is a time when someone made you feel like you mattered?  Who are the people you tend to overlook?  Who would feel affirmed if you asked a question and listened?

One Prompt and Three Ways to Become More Like Jesus

I really hate the term “spiritual discipline”.

To me it sounds legalistic and rigid and joy-less and not very Jesus-y. Which is ironic, because “spiritual discipline” is about becoming more like Jesus.

Though I don’t like the term, I love the reality that there are little experiments and experiences, prayers and practices and prompts that we can use to help us become more loving. I’m grateful that God is at work transforming us in our everydayness when we pay attention.

Since 9/11 this is a common sign to see around airports or subways.

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I’ve been thinking…What if we use this as a prompt to help us become more like Jesus?

Jesus was a noticer. He looked people in the eye. He saw, He affirmed, He named what was wrong, He questioned.

So how about… 

  1. If you see something positive, you say something positive  When you observe someone (yes even a stranger) doing ANYTHING you admire, if you hear them affirmed in a conversation when they’re not around, use that as a prompt to say something or write a note telling them specifically what is awesome about them. Don’t let affirmation go unsaid.

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2. If you see someone overlooked, say something. A friend was sharing the other day, how she is trying to “see” the unseen – the grubby guy at the car wash, the old lady with a walker – and say something. Engage them in conversation. She sat down on a bench with an old scruffy guy and just asked him a question, so he felt seen and valued.

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3. If you see something wrong, say something is wrong. I was walking with a young woman recently who shared the pain of being shamed loudly in front friends and no one named it. No one checked in to say, “You know that thing that so-and-so said? How are you feeling?”  If you see injustice or unkindness, say something. Don’t let the elephant in the room hang around. 

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If you see something, say something. Write a note, ask a question, say “Way to go!” or “That was wrong.”

 

 

Notice What You Notice

This is Maggie, our delightful, 25 year old who just got married and is preparing to move from D.C. cross-country with her husband to start grad school at Berkeley.  

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One of her mentors, Brooke Toftoy, introduced our church to Holy Yoga which is “experiential worship created to deepen people’s connection to Christ.”  Maggie loves Yoga, so the morning before her wedding she asked Brooke to lead the bridesmaids in this practice.  Although there’s only “regular” yoga in D.C she still loves it. I asked Maggie to guest post today, because although I may be biased, I think she’s amazing!

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One of my favorite yoga instructors invites us into an interesting practice.  Every so often, throughout the class, he will invite us into a resting position and ask us to “return to your breath, be still and notice.  Notice what you notice.”

“Notice what you notice,” he says.  So I lay there and I notice.  First I notice that the “resting pose” that he has instructed us to find is awfully pretzely and I want to have a few words with whoever dubbed it a “resting pose.”  I notice how sweaty I am.  I notice that it’s hot day and that in 24 minutes when class is over, it would be a good time for some froyo (I’ve obviously earned it, what with the sweat and the pretzel-y-ness.)

When I’m done mentally complaining, I start the practice of really noticing.  I notice that I feel pretty calm.  I notice that I’m really improving in that one difficult pose, and that makes me feel strong and accomplished.  I notice that this is the one quiet spot in my day and I soak it in.

Outside of yoga class, in regular old life,  I sometimes like to remind myself to notice what I notice.  I like being observant and tuning in.

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