The need to be seen


There is a lot of talk these days about superheroes and the powers they possess.

This is certainly the result of the deluge of superhero movies that have poured into the theaters and into our homes over the past decade.

While watching one such movie recently, I was intrigued by a question asked by one of the mortal characters in the film. The character simply asked, “If you could have any superpower, what would it be?”

To be completely honest, it wasn’t the question that really caught my attention so much as the answer the character provided to his own question. He noted that most people choose either invisibility or flying.

What was so incredibly potent about this scene and the character presenting the information was that he had a physical disability and was a social outcast at his school. I found it painfully ironic that this young man would talk about invisibility as a superpower. In his case, invisibility wasn’t a superpower to be obtained but a curse that must be endured.

Over the holiday season, First Baptist Church partnered with our friends at The Alley to host a massive Christmas dinner. It was crazy, somewhat chaotic and absolutely incredible. I don’t know what the final count was on the night, but it was a lot.

Following the dinner, I had an interesting interaction with one of our guests. I shook his hand and thanked him for coming. He looked me in the eyes and said, “Thank you for seeing me and treating me like a person.” It went straight to my heart.

The most meaningful part of the night for this man wasn’t the meal we provided or the gifts we gave, but the fact that we were willing to take his hand in ours and say, “Hello. It’s good to see you.”

It brings to mind the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. Jesus tells the story to illustrate what it means to love neighbor as self. In the story, a man sets out on a business trip and is beaten and robbed on the road. Three travelers pass that way seeing the man in need of assistance, but only one, the Samaritan, cared enough to reach out his hand to the poor fellow.

One could see how the man might be prone to think he was invisible to those who passed him by on the road. Surely if they’d seen him, they would have at least had the common courtesy to say hello and make sure he was OK.

When I read this story, I like to see myself in the role of the Good Samaritan. Often, however, I think I fall into the role of one of the two passers-by. Sure, I see that single parent struggling with the flat tire on the side of the road, but I drive on. Perhaps I don’t have the skills or the time to help, but would it really set me too far behind to stop and ask if everything was alright?

I see the man on the street corner in front of Aldi, but I keep my eyes on the traffic light. Perhaps I don’t have money to offer, but could I not at least offer a smile and a warm hello?

I recognize that person walking through Walmart, but I cut down the next aisle hoping they didn’t see me. Perhaps I don’t feel like talking that day, but would a hello and a handshake really kill me?

So often, we see the people around us, but we treat them like they are invisible. I’m not saying we need to reach out to everyone all the time, but would it really hurt us to acknowledge their presence and offer what little kindness we can?

Kindness costs us very little, but it is one of those instances where a little can go a long, long way. Small acts of grace, a hug, a handshake, a smile, a “hello” or a “how are you” can restore a little bit of life to a broken and wounded soul.

To deny such acts of compassion and courtesy, however, can be a source of pain and can strip a person of a small piece of their humanity. We need to open our eyes to see the people in our path. But more than that, we need to open our hearts that compassion and kindness might flow to those we see. No one really wants to be invisible.

The Rev. Jeremy Myers is the lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Seymour. Read his blog at Send comments to [email protected].

No posts to display