By: Ginger Hughes
I’m not sure what she saw when she looked at me.
There were no tears. My eyes were no longer swollen or red-rimmed. I was simply standing at the door of the intensive care unit, eyes downcast, waiting for my cousin to join me there.
I glanced up once and saw her looking at me with sympathetic eyes. She was young, probably in her early twenties, a nurse’s badge hooked to her jacket.
My gaze had dropped back to the floor; my mind lost in a litany of thoughts when her voice brought my head up. She was standing there in front of me, and with a kind smile said, “May I give you a hug? Would that be okay? You look like you could use one.”
The corners of my mouth tilted upward in what was something close to a smile as I replied, “Of course. Thank you.”
What did she see that afternoon?
If our eyes are truly a window to the soul, then perhaps mine reflected worry or sadness. Maybe they looked lost or tired, lonely even. And maybe it doesn’t really matter what she saw.
Perhaps the only thing that matters is that she did see.
The Gospels are full of stories of Jesus seeing people who were frequently overlooked by others. He saw Zacchaeus in the tree. He saw the woman at the well. He saw the ten lepers.
Jesus was busy. He was continually teaching, ministering, and helping others. Yet, He always made time to look into the eyes of those around Him, to see past the façade and into the heart.
But do you know what else Jesus did? He not only saw people, but He also responded to their plight. Jesus was not only sympathetic; He was compassionate.
Jesus didn’t simply see the woman at the well, and then proceed to ignore her while He drew water. Rather, He walked over and began a conversation.
Jesus didn’t simply notice Zacchaeus in that tree, and then walk on by going about His business. Rather He stopped and asked Zacchaeus to come down and join Him for dinner.
Jesus didn’t simply look at the lepers standing there beside the road, and then act as though He never saw them. Rather He healed them.
Jesus noticed people and then responded in action.
Do we do the same?
Our lives are often so fast-paced and chaotic that we forget to notice people. We become so busy with our stories, our struggles, our jobs, and our families that we fail to see anyone else. At times, we’re in such a rush that we hardly glance at the person in front of us in the checkout line. We barely look up at the coworker we pass in the hallway. We fail to even look into the eyes of the person sitting beside us at church.
And as much as it hurts to say it, the truth is even when we do see people and notice their hurt, we often fail to act in response.
How much have I missed along the way because I’m too distracted to SEE people or too busy to help them?
In our rush, who are we missing?
In our self-absorption, who are we not helping?
Over the last few weeks, we’ve had sweet neighbors invite our little ones to play which allowed my husband time to work or cut the grass while I’ve been away.
Friends have brought care packages with snacks and gift cards to help cover the costs of meals while I’m at the hospital with mom.
Suppers have been cooked and delivered to our home for my family to enjoy.
People have recognized our need in this difficult time. But more than that, they have put action behind their compassion, and this choice has made all the difference.
What did that nurse see when she looked at me three weeks ago?
I can’t be sure. But I am sure of this. When I was struggling and overwhelmed with anxiety and fear, I saw Jesus in her. And my prayer friend is that others will see Him in us as well.
-Ginger Hughes is the wife of a pastor, a mother of two and an accountant. She is a Georgia native currently living in the foothills of North Carolina. Her passion for writing is fueled by the desire to offer encouragement, grace and a deeper understanding that we are all God’s children. Her blogging for Nurturing Faith is sponsored by a gift from First Baptist Church of Gainesville, Ga. Additional writings may be found at nomamasperfect.com.