Usually my “word” for the year comes to me slowly.
(I take this “one word” business pretty seriously.)
But this year my word arrived quite unexpectedly before I had even started to mull over what I was aiming for.
It happened to be at a time when I was feeling overwhelmed almost to the point that I wondered if I was depressed. I was starting to wonder if “this feeling” was normal…to wake up with anxiety each morning and to feel snappy and impatient with my children and husband. I was worried because generally I am one to see life with rose-colored glasses. The glass is always half-full as far as I’m concerned and I’m quick to find the good in things. But for a while I had been feeling like I was in a dark tunnel with no light beckoning me from the other end. There was just too much on my plate and I didn’t know how to remedy it all.
I was in my closet getting ready for the day. As usual, my mind was going a million miles a minute. What did I need to accomplish that day, which girls I could reach out to in Young Women, when would I ever get around to changing that burned-out lightbulb, what would I make for dinner, how did my closet get so cluttered…and then my mind jumped suddenly out to our waitress from dinner the night before.
Dave and I had snuck away in the midst of the holiday hoopla for a quiet dinner on our own. We had scarcely seen or talked to each other and needed to re-group.
At some point in the middle of our meal we needed something (I can’t remember what…more water? more Marsala sauce?). We both looked around for our waitress and suddenly came to the realization that neither of us had the foggiest idea what she looked like. She had checked on us three times, brought us water, had told us about the specials and had taken our order.
Yet we didn’t know what she looked like. We hadn’t really “seen” her…we had just looked through her and answered and ordered like robots wrapped up only in ourselves.
As I stood there in my closet and thought about that sweet waitress we had worked on “seeing” for the rest of the meal my heart sunk again (just like it had the night before). And then my mind randomly jumped again to Lucy’s preschool holiday party the day before. All the parents had been there helping their children decorate their own foam gingerbread houses with stickers and watching the kids do the limbo. I thought about the parents of one of Lu’s friends who had been there. They are fairly recently divorced. They are obviously struggling through the trenches of the tough stuff that most inevitably comes with divorce, as were their two little girls. In my subconscious mind I had been aware of them, but had been preoccupied with those parents I knew better, (and obviously with Lucy).
But as I stood there in my closet that next morning I was overcome with an awareness that just like that waitress the night before, I hadn’t “seen” them. At this point in their journey how nice would it have been for them to have even someone they scarcely know reach out to them and just show a little extra kindness. Maybe ask them how they were doing…how their children were doing. I know how it feels when you’re going through a rough time to have someone “see” you…and do something about it.
Then my mind wandered to Dave. As much as we’ve been living in the same house and raising the same children, and discussing the same parts of life, things had been so crazy this Christmas season up to that point that I hadn’t really “seen” him. I was so wrapped up in trying to stay afloat with my own things that it hadn’t dawned on me that he (along with Heavenly Father) are the ones who actually keep me afloat. When I “see” him and his needs like he always seems to “see” mine life comes into focus and there is a clarity in things around me that brings pure happiness. When I take a moment to “see” what he is involved in and put his needs and issues first all my worries and stresses somehow fade.
And my children…I had been going through the motions of “being there” for them, and I was. But instead of the fulfilling happiness I always feel when I am “in the moment” with them, my mind had been on who I needed to text about such and such an event and what in the world would we bring to our neighbors for Christmas.
So I sat there in my closet and let tears well up in my eyes. I had let the stress of life take over and had been so wrapped up in so many “good” things that I had forgotten to “see” my family. My friends. Even random strangers. And that was what was making me feel so uneasy and pressed down on.
It seems like an oxymoron to add “really ‘seeing’ others” to balance out an already overflowing plate. Part of me had been telling my subconscious that I could “see” others better just as soon as I finished this or that task…as soon as life slowed down a bit.
But that morning in my closet I realized once again that “seeing” others (maybe it’s simple true charity I’m talking about here) if put first on the list rather than last after all the busy stuff, is the conduit to balancing an unbalanced life.
It IS life.
“Seeing” others as Christ would see them is truly the starting point.
All the mumbo-jumbo stuff can fill in after that most important part.
Sometimes it’s just so darn easy to get wrapped up in what WE are involved in that we forget to see the needs of others.
I realized right then and there that no matter how overwhelmed I am in my life, I can never let striving to “see” others as Heavenly Father would, slide away. And if I do, I better start to get my balance back quick. Which means perhaps getting rid of a few things I’m holding on to and simplifying my life. (which I’m working hard on now)
Because when I make the time to truly “see” others, I can “see” myself that much more clearly.
In 1 Samuel 16:7 it says, “for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
How I hope that this year as I focus on the word “SEE” that I will be able to more fully see what the Lord sees in myself and others: not the outward appearance, but the heart. And that I will be able to balance my life in such a way that I can give of myself to build up and nurture what I see.