Tuesday, February 18, 2014

One easy way to make another's day

It's funny how God can use our greatest defects and turn them into something really beautiful. I'm definitely prone to selfishness (who isn't?) but I really really do struggle with this. I'm very sensitive, which can be both a gift and a curse. When I'm at my best, I'm adept at picking up on the needs and feelings of others and noticing what goes unnoticed by most, but when I'm at my worst I'm so focused on my own upset, my own needs and emotions that I don't see anyone else.

My sensitivity contributes to a strong capacity for self-reflection and introspection. I've been noticing lately how very desperate I feel for affirmation and approval. I literally feel like there's a bottomless pit of need within me, crying out for praise and validation. Even when I do get the accolades I think I'm craving, I rarely feel better. This need for affirmation is not bad in itself. God put this need within all of us and big needs as an adult almost always reflect unmet/inadequately met needs from childhood. This need for affirmation becomes a problem when it leads me to focus on myself instead of God and others. The past few weeks, I've definitely been guilty of this.

I was having a particularly desperate night on Sunday, when I went to pick up some take-out. The teenage boy at the register was very helpful but serious. I had a long list of things I did not want on my food and he went over the order backwards and forwards to make sure he had it right. He must have said something slightly wrong (which I didn't notice) because he apologized and said he was having an off day. I stepped outside of my own grumpiness and told him with a smile how thorough he was in making sure my order was right. He smiled shyly and it was easy to see how much the observation meant to him.

At work, I see a lot of people who are hurting deeply and they often present as angry and jaded. It can be easy to fall into doing the bare minimum with them, but today I pointed out to a client how happy her baby seems when he looks at her, and her abrasive scowl quickly became a beaming smile.

What's important about all of this, is that people just long to be seen- to be noticed. They don't even need praise most of the time. Simply noticing is enough. I'm going to commit myself to pointing out all the little positive- however seemingly trivial- things I notice about the people I meet.


  1. This is awesome. I know in some of the worst times that I had, I longed for someone to so much as look me in the eyes and acknowledge that I even existed. I love this simple way of doing that for someone else, and I will be looking for ways to do that tomorrow!

    1. Thanks as always Catholic Mutt. I love that you always take the time to comment. It is so nice to have feedback:-). Yes, in the worst of times, like you describe, we just long for a stranger to even make eye contact with us!

  2. I tried emailing you about your thyroid...email me :)