The Need to Be Seen

April 19, 2016

Categories: Identity

I attended a Texas Rangers baseball game the other night with a couple of friends. It was a lot of fun. We had decent seats, it didn’t rain, and the Rangers pulled off a victory.

One thing I noticed during the game was how excited everyone was if they saw themselves on the Jumbotron. They could have been bored and half asleep one second before, but once they saw themselves on the Jumbotron, everyone would jump up, wave their hands wildly, and act crazy.

I felt it in myself also. I never made it on the Jumbotron during the game, but I wished I would have. There was one time the camera panned our section, and I stood up and waved my hands, hoping to get on screen.

Why is it so fun to be on the big screen? I think at some deep level, each of us has a need to be seen. We want the chance to express our humanity, and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are important enough to be recognized and acknowledged by others.

If we were lucky enough to have good-enough parents who loved us, we probably received this message from them. Through their words, actions, and touch, they noticed us and communicated to us that they liked what they saw. They smiled at us and cheered us on from our very first step.

Some of us weren’t so lucky. Maybe our parents weren’t around very much, and as much as we tried, we couldn’t get our parents to really see us. Or maybe they were around, but they had expectations for our lives that we couldn’t meet. They couldn’t see us for who we truly were. So we end up going through life like the people on the Jumbotron, trying desperately to be seen.

It’s a gift to be truly seen, understood, and appreciated for who you are. If you have a friend, family member, or romantic partner who does that for you, be thankful. It’s also a privilege to give someone else the gift of being seen, understood, and appreciated for who they are. If you have some extra time and energy today, think about giving that gift to someone by listening and asking questions about who they are and what makes them come alive.

It’s a gift to relax and truly be at peace with yourself and who you are, not needing the external praise and attention of others. It’s not easy, and it’s something I’m working toward. And it’s a gift to experience God as someone who sees you and likes you just the way you are, without you having to do a thing to earn it. I think that’s grace.

Discussion: What do you think about the need to be seen? How does that need impact your life and your relationships?

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