I was at the mall this weekend, and I was reminded: I hate the mall.
Which is why I need Jesus.
It’s not the parking, not the consumerism, and not the prices. It’s the people. Soooo many people.
I’m an introvert at heart, and the mall is just too much.
Crowds of people moseying in front of me when I’m trying to get by, huge pictures of half-naked models hanging in store windows, a guy talking really loudly on his phone as though we all want to hear, a restaurant worker with one last sample on her tray, salespeople stepping into my path when I don’t want help.
Okay, yes, the mall can be overwhelming, but this isn’t really about the mall. And yes, I am an introvert, but this isn’t really about that either.
What this is really about is much more serious: I wasn’t seeing people.
I was surrounded by men and women, moms and dads, kids and grandparents, but instead of seeing them, I was seeing objects and obstacles. It was like my brain substituted a bunch of somethings for all the someones.
Seeing people means seeing unique and valuable individuals, each with a story, each with joys and pains, each known and beloved by God, each with the gift of breath.
In contrast, viewing people as objects means my thoughts about them are limited to how they can get me what I want or make me feel good. And viewing them as obstacles means my thoughts about them are limited to how they’re in the way of me getting what I want or feeling good.
• On the road, do I see heavy traffic or men and women going home?
• On the beach, do I notice bodies and body parts, or men and women—dads, husbands, brothers, and sons, moms, wives, sisters, and daughters?
• At home, do I see a school bag left in the doorway or a kid who came home exhausted?
• In conversation, do I see an opportunity to sound good, or another person wanting to be seen and heard?
Thank God Jesus always saw people.
I think of the woman in Luke 8 who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years. She came seeking Jesus’ healing at a really inopportune time for Jesus. He was responding to an emergency and crowds of people were pressing around him. On her part, she was unclean according to the Jewish law and, catch this: she didn’t want to be seen. She was sneaking in, trying to get healed without anyone noticing.
But Jesus stopped, turned around, called out to her, and looked for her until he could see her face to face. And until she could see him.
I’m guessing afterwards if she thought about it on her way home, she realized she actually did want to be seen (just not as an object or an obstacle, as she feared).
For Jesus, it didn’t matter if the person coming to him was rich or poor, in power or subject to power, a saint or a sinner. It didn’t matter, they mattered—each man, woman, boy, and girl. Me. You.
Oh Jesus, thank you for seeing me with eyes of love even when I don’t deserve it. I want to be seen by you. And please give me eyes like yours so I can see as you see.
Question: What has helped or is helping you become a person who sees people, instead of viewing objects and obstacles?