‘For the 1’ December blog
“Be somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody”.
I have this written on the wall in my bedroom, it’s the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing I see at night. Something of a life motto I guess.
One of my favourite examples of this statement being outworked comes from a very cool story told in the Bible, about a guy called Jesus, (who is God in human form), when he meets a woman at a well. We don’t know her name but we do know that she is from a different culture than his – a people group generally despised and considered to be enemies. We also know that in those days it wasn’t ok for a man, especially a religious teacher like him, to be alone with a woman – in fact the Bible says that when Jesus’followers came back they were ‘shocked’that he was talking to her. Yet still Jesus sat and chatted with her. The story Jesus reveals of this lady is that she has been married five times, and now she lives with yet another man…but that’s not the real scandal about this encounter, because in those days women were little more than pieces of property and they did not have the right to divorce their husband. A man, however, can easily divorce and cast aside his wife; so this woman has essentially been rejected by five different men, and the man she isliving with now hasn’t even bothered to respect her enough to marry her. Not only was this woman from a detested race, she was also rejected and cast aside by the very men who were supposed to care for her. Jesus saw the heartbreak surrounding this woman, and the scandal is that he still chose to sit down next to her, to look her in the eye and to speak to her with kindness.
Imagine how accepted and loved and seen and valued that encounter made the woman feel.
You and I may not have been rejected by five spouses, but I believe we all have something inside of us which longs to be noticed, to be seen and to be valued. ‘Am I loved?’ ‘Am I accepted?’ are the questions we all ask, every day, sometimes consciously but more often, unconsciously. We all hold a desire to feel secure.
The National Scientific Council on the Developing Child* recently released a report indicating that the single defining factor in whether or not a child who has faced serious hardship will do well in life, is the presence of at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive adult. Being seen, valued, accepted, and loved made all the difference in the world.
I don’t know about you but doesn’t it sound like an immense privilege to be that person for someone else?!
In my personal life I am that person for three nephews, a niece and a godson,committed to being their biggest cheerleader, their number one and most vocal fan. I also walk closely with three young women as a mentor, and continue to benefit from someone who chooses to mentor me in this way.
Beyond that, in my professional life, within the childcare and education sector, I work hard every day to notice the one, to see each person as a unique individual within the sea of faces. That moment when a person who came into my presence with a frown, or a glazed expression cracks a smile, or makes eye contact for the first time… they are the moments I treasure.
A young person came into one of my lunch clubs for the first time a month or so ago, their eyes downcast, a sad look on their face and a voice so quiet you could almost miss that they had said anything. After a few minutes of sitting still they got a box out of their bag. This box contained a game – a game I personally would never choose to play in a million years – and several young people in the room vocalised their distaste and scorn toward the game.
In that moment I made a choice, and that choice was to say “I’ve never played that game before, would you teach me how?” Over the next half hour the entire demeanour of that young person changed completely, their eyes shone and their face was transformed into a radiant smile. By the end of lunchtime every young person in the room was engaged in the game.
It’s amazing how one small choice to speak with kindness instead of scorn, to notice someone rather than ignore them, altered the course of the day for everyone involved. That young person has come back every week since, because they feel valued in that environment.
If Jesus, who was actually God, could find the time to sit down and speak kindly to an outcast enemy, surely I can smile at a stranger, surely I can be kind to each person I encounter throughout my day. It’s catching, like a yawn. Whenyou smile at someone they smile back, and they smile at someone else, who smiles at someone else, who smiles at someone else… it’s a kindness revolution, and it starts with the one.
Imagine what our world would look like if we all took the time to make everybody feel like somebody.
Written by Karen Tullet
Karen is a leader in a local church, captain of a netball team, and loves running and wine! Alongside 18 years experience of working with children, she holds a BSc in Child & Adolescent Psychology, an MSc in Health Psychology and is trained as a Mental Health First Aider. Currently studying post grad Kingdom Theology, Karen also coordinates key stage 3 & 4 work for Schools Ministry Billericay, sits on the Made For More board of Trustees, and supervises before and after school child care provision.
The National Scientific Council on the Developing Child Report: