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The blessing of noticing and being noticed
Amber Albee Swenson
by Amber Albee Swenson
April 29, 2024

Very often I sit by a 77-year-old woman at church. When she walks out of church, the pastor greets her with, “Good to see you!” And every week without fail, she responds, “It’s good to be seen.”

The gospels reveal Jesus as a man with a propensity to notice the people others ignore. When two blind men yelled for him to have mercy on them, the crowd tried to get them to be quiet. Jesus easily could have kept going, surrounded by people admiring him and craving his attention. Instead, he stopped and asked what the men wanted. And when they responded, he gave them their sight.

Or how about Zacchaeus? He was just trying to get a glimpse of Jesus. Because he was on the shorter side, he climbed a tree. Every other person that day probably thought nothing of walking by him. But not Jesus.

And when the disciples thought they were doing Jesus a favor by rebuking the parents who were bringing their children to Jesus to bless them or pray for them, Jesus rebuked the disciples. While others saw families as noisy and bothersome, Jesus saw the kingdom of heaven. He took time for the least of these and noticed the people others easily overlooked, like a widow who had only two small coins to give at the temple. Most would see her as insignificant. Jesus said her heart was big. He noticed and directed his disciples to take note as well.

The world is always after attention. Perhaps that is why one of the most sought-after professions of young adults today is social influencer. They want to be noticed and liked and listened to. It is all too easy to think a “like” will fill that void and numbers will add to our worth.

Ask a mother who stays at home with her small children if she feels seen.

Ask the older man whose advice used to be sought after if he feels heard.

Ask the teen huddled under her covers if anyone really knows and gets who she is.

Jesus gave us a glimpse of the heart of God, and God notices. There’s never a time you aren’t seen, heard, or known. In fact, God knows you even better than you know you.

Jesus said, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6,7).

I don’t know the number of hairs on my head, but God does. He created me, and he knows me. He listens to me when I pray to him. Each time I pray to him, not just when I’ve been good and not just when I say the right words. God sends his Spirit to help even when the situation is so out of control that I don’t know what to pray.

“The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26).

You, child of God, are never alone. You are seen and known and heard. And as little Christians (Christ-bearers) who bear the name of Christ, one of the most beautiful gifts we can give to others is the gift of noticing.

Notice the people sitting outside their house as you walk down their street. Today I saw an older man sitting next to his garage. I had to walk around his sprinkler.

“I’m trying to bring my grass back to life,” he apologized.

“It was a dry summer last year. I’ll pray it comes back each time I walk past,” I called back.

“Good. Walk by here often.”

“I do! Every day!”

Notice the people in line at the store or waiting in the doctor’s office. Notice the teens in the lobby on their phones after church. Ask them how school is going and which class is their favorite.

Notice the people wiping the tables in the coffee shop. (I just did and had a lovely conversation with a beautiful Christian woman who owns the shop! We even exchanged phone numbers!)

As I was finishing this blog post, I texted a coworker to let her know how much my daughter loved her when she met her recently. My coworker texted back: “I honestly don’t know what I said or did to leave such an impression.”

I responded: “You just took the time to notice her.”

Imagine the change we could be in the world, and imagine the doors that would open to share the message of the gospel if we quit being so busy and distracted and made a point to be more like Jesus and notice people.