Generation Cedar

I want to live on purpose, seeing past the faces of people scurrying by, forgiving the rude gesture, and assuming that maybe, just maybe, there is deep pain in someone’s life. Perhaps I could smile intentionally, sincerely, pay a compliment or just do something kind to bring a small joy to someone’s day.

A few months ago I took one of my daughters out for lunch. A man sat at the table next to us. Normal looking guy, ate a sandwich, read the paper, checked his phone, looked out the window. He commented about my baby, I said “thank you”, and we were getting ready to leave.

And then I saw it. Something in his face. I felt it.

“Are you OK?” (I never ask strangers that kind of question.)

He stared at me, then his eyes filled with tears, and he slowly–almost disbelievingly–shook his head no.

I asked him if I could pray for him and he shared with me, reluctantly at first, and then a bit more about his family. A pending divorce, attorneys, a custody battle–his whole world was crumbling.

He told me when we left, “I want to thank you for taking the time to stop and care and talk. I was feeling very helpless today and you brought hope.”

That’s not a story about my good deed. It’s a story about my regrets. This was a rare day. How many times have I not lived, not looked on purpose?

There are broken and hurting people everywhere. We must be about living a life of purpose to find them and reach out a hand to them.

It’s how Jesus lived. No formal ministry, no foreign mission field, just open eyes as he walked through life.

My first resolution for the new year–to live more purposefully, to love more sincerely.

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15 Responses

  1. I had an unexpected stay in the hospital over Christmas. While there, some nice people brought gifts to everyone on our floor. I thought that was such a sweet way to show Christ’s love to hurting people.

  2. Some very good lessons to be learned from this. First, the power of prayer to bring some comfort and hope to the hurting. Knowing that someone is praying for you, or especially being in the presence of one who prays for you right then and there, certainly has the power to bring some measure of peace. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

    Also, the importance of attentiveness cannot be underestimated. It is true that there are so many out there who are in pain from circumstances we don’t know about. Often, I think, their private struggles *do* show up on their faces, if only we would cultivate that skill of looking into people’s eyes, so that we can be responsive to the needs that may only be apparent through a close look.

    I’m afraid our digitally-connected culture is losing the ability to perceive, and therefore respond to, facial cues. The art of face-to-face human connection is unraveling, even as we may be improving on reading between the lines and perceiving the hurt that may be apparent through others’ typed words on a screen.

    But where does that leave the silent people in our physical world? There are many who need us there, too, lovingly attentive and sacrificially responsive to their needs. It’s a lesson in balance that I personally am increasingly aware of needing to learn.

    Very good thoughts in your post, Kelly. And what a blessing for your daughter to witness how making a human connection when we perceive someone’s hurt can bring hope in dismal circumstances. I appreciate how you’ve reinforced some of the very things I’ve been thinking of lately. This post was a real blessing to me.

    1. “I’m afraid our digitally-connected culture is losing the ability to perceive, and therefore respond to, facial cues. The art of face-to-face human connection is unraveling…”

      I thought the very same thing as I was writing.

  3. Jesus spent his early mornings praying alone; I wonder if part of that time he was getting his instructions for the day about who he would meet and what they would need. I wonder if we could get out of our own heads enough to be able to get instructions like that each morning?

    1. “…who he would meet and what they would need.”

      I was thinking of that comment sitting in the dentist’s office waiting room today during one of my children’s appointments, looking at the people coming and going from there.

      Then tonight I thought, ‘You know, I can apply that on the days I’m home, too.’ What are the things on my husband’s or my children’s minds that they might not be verbalizing? Sometimes we (I) miss what’s on the faces of our own loved ones, simply because of failure to pay attention. I’m reminded that there might be some hurting souls right in the mission field of my own home.

      Very good reminder to start the day in prayer, asking to be attentive to whatever needs present themselves that day, no matter where we are.

  4. I don’t take the time to read many blog posts these days, but thank you sharing your heart and this humbling reminder.

    Recently, we were in Walmart checking out and I noticed this older woman sitting on the bench. She didn’t look quite right. She was having a blood sugar crash. My daughter got her a drink and we waited with her until her family member came.

    The hurting are all around. May we have eyes to see.

  5. Oh, Kelly this is so convicting. Thank you so much for sharing this. The comments have also been very edifying. I read recently a New Year’s Resolution idea about choosing one word to focus on for the year and make a 2014 focus statement about it. Use a basic spiral or notebook and write things about it all year. I love to set goals but it is kind of refreshing and beautifully simple to think about focusing on one word. Mine is going to be POUR. I want to make this year about me pouring myself out, the Lord pouring the Holy Spirit in so that I may pour His love, fruit of the spirit on all those around me. This post is a great reminder that you never know when the Lord wants to use you. Awareness is key. Miss you dear friend! Blessings to you and your sweet family,Jen

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