Do You See Me Now?
Updated: Aug 3, 2021
As I walk the streets of Mexico I see many in need. I see their outstretched hands. I see the tricks they play in desperation for money. I see their homes with tarp roofs and small thin paneled walls held up by ropes and thin nails. I see their unbathed bodies and clothes, and missing shoes. I see the thinness of their bodies and the junk food they buy just to have something to eat because its cheap. I hear their cries. I hear the voices of their need as they yell on the corners of what they have to offer. I hear their silence as they feel too ashamed to ask for help, yet they sit there with a cup looking down hoping that you will hear them, when they feel too defeated to speak. I hear the pain in their hearts as they look at me with eyes that hold stories untold. I hear the pain in their stubbornness to accept or ask for help. But most of all I see as many eyes look down and away, the feet the scurry faster, and hands that clutch their belongings. I see the pride in their actions, their feelings of unease, the wanting to help but not knowing if it is worth it or even safe. I see as we act and treat them like their needs, voices and beings are invisible. Out of sight out of mind.
As I watch the people turn a blind eye to the needs of the world and their own lives all I can hear is "Out of sight, out of mind." A saying often used when we don't want to deal with the mess of our closets as we shove more into it closing it tightly. Knowing how bad the situation it is but not wanting to deal with it or simply feeling to overwhelmed to deal with it. I must confess I have done this too, but now more then ever I see us as a society responding to the issues of the world and our lives with this saying.
Out of sight. If I pretend I don't see that person in need then I am not responsible.
Out of mind. If I am not responsible then there's no reason for me to care and feel guilty. Out of sight. If I don't acknowledge that problem then its not there.
Out of mind. If its not there then I don't have to heal, forgive or fix it, so I don't need to worry.
Out of sight. If I push this feeling away then it doesn't exist.
Out of mind. If it doesn't exist then I can be ok.
This saying we all collectively know solves nothing yet we embrace this lie because it fits our comfort zones. In my life I stayed within the boundaries of my comfort zone. I felt uneasy talking to new people, so I didn't. Looking at them and their need made me uncomfortable so I didn't. I too looked away, walked faster and held onto my belongings tightly. It made me uncomfortable to face my problems and see the pain of others. It made me uncomfortable to see the weakness, brokenness and helplessness in others and myself.
Only the strong survive. This world says that if you are weak, broken and helpless then you will not survive. You are a failure, disposable, not as valuable. So we do everything in our power to be and appear strong. We fight and work hard for good jobs, that put food on the table, and other joys because this is successful. We hide our problems and shove down our feelings to appear put together, healthy. We push ourselves even we we feel we can no more not relying on others to appear independent. Strong in our world has been defended as successful, healthy, and independent. If you are anything but these then you are weak, and only the strong survive. While all these things do characterize and show strength to an extent its lacking one big thing. It is in weakness we build and become strong. The definition of strong means to with stand great force or pressure.
I thought that meant it doesn't matter what life throws at you as long as you keep going and show you are heathy, independent and capable of success that is strength.
Humans are supposed to be the alfa species, the strongest but we are wrong. We are wrong when our comfort zones and beliefs of strength make us loose our humanity.
Human; a person distinguished from an animal. Has a brain, voice (opinion), emotions, empathy, can create, has a conscience (soul), will (spirit), responsibility, able to communicate and relate. Builds relationships, has morals and is mortal. But we are losing our humanity when we allow our comfort zones and ideas of strength to stop us from valuing one another. I looked away and stayed in my comfort zone for me was safety but to that person it said you don't matter. When I didn't acknowledge the problem I thought I was protecting myself but I was actually hurting myself further by letting it continue to hurt me and others. When I pushed that feeling aside I thought I was being mature but really I was running from the pain I was feeling, not learning to address it heathy and letting the bottled up pain effect every area of my life, even when I couldn't see it happening. It caused me too not take responsibility, compromise my morals, emotions, my voice. It affected my relationships, how I built them, acted in them, loved those people, was able to connect to them. I lost apart of my humanity when I told myself and others only the strong survive and stayed in my comfort zone and believed, acted and said out of sight out of mind.
Do you see me now?
As a missionary volunteer one of the first things they taught us was to remember and keep sight of you reason, goal and purpose, so you can always stay true and on track. Mine is to love people, make them feel loved, valued and seen. 1 Cor 16:14 "let all you do be done in love." But I was acting out of that false mindset. I was loving them, serving them, and trying to fix them. I was trying to fix them, seeing them as something that desperately needed fixing, because they were weak, helpless and broken. But I was wrong.
I didn't know true strength, survival and humanity until I met them. The definition of strong means to with stand great force or pressure. These people daily withstand more pressure then most of us will have to endure in a life time. I see their outstretched hands. I see how in there outstretched hands they show me their vulnerability, courage and perseverance. The weakest parts of themselves they bear for all to see and yet with every passing judgement, and rebuke they stayed. They stayed strong in hope, every spoken or silent plea was a war cry saying I will not give up. No matter what you think, no matter how you treat me I will push on. I will do this for love, for my family and for myself.
I see the tricks they play in desperation for money. In every trick I see a creative, smart, capable individual who works harder then most, preserves in the face of reticule, mocking and pity. They try their very best in every moment.
I see their homes with tarp roofs and small thin paneled walls held up by ropes and thin nails. I see genius in them. Some people cannot even hammer a nail yet these people are so creative and ingenious they are able to make a home out of nothing, and they open their homes to others. They share what little they have, what knowledge they have to build and support those around them. They build each other up through support.
I see their unbathed bodies and clothes, and missing shoes. I see the thinness of their bodies and the junk food they buy just to have something to eat because its cheap. I see how little they have to care for themselves yet they give so freely. When I visited an indigenous community in Quetereo they would give us chairs while they sat on rocks. They would buy us sweets with the very little money they had. In their lack they have much, much value, worth for one another.
I hear their cries. I hear the voices of their need as they yell on the corners of what they have to offer. I hear their silence as they feel too ashamed to ask for help, yet they sit there with a cup looking down hoping that you will hear them, when they feel too defeated to speak. I hear hope and trust. Even in their silence I hear their hope and trust that someone, or somehow they will find a way to provide their needs. I see how they assume the best in you even in their desperation. They trust that someone help them, if they just have hope and courage.
I hear the pain in their hearts as they look at me with eyes that hold stories untold. I hear the pain in their stubbornness to accept or ask for help. I hear their songs of strength as they dare to laugh in their pain. I hear their hope as they dance, and celebrate one another. I hear them give value to one another by never devaluing someone's pain. I hear them protect strangers alike.
I know their strength, their strength to love despite having every reason no to love.
Love is what makes us Human.
You see in our weakness we find compassion, love, humility, vulnerability, and empathy. We see people and we value them. We help build them up and not tear them down because we know. In our weakness we work together and not apart. We give. We find courage to face each day and ourselves because we have no other choice, but to do that alone is strength. In our weakness we learn to depend which makes us grateful and humble. It helps us to not put ourselves above others. In our brokenness we learn to feel and be empathetic. In our brokenness, helplessness and weakness we find what it truly means to be human. Love that protects, honors, values and sees.
There is no strength without weakness. So let us be compassionate, loving, humble and empathetic. Let us give to those in need not out of pity, or trying to fix them but support and build them up. Let us not decide who is worth or not worthy of help because who are you to decide that persons value. If that person chooses to use your help for drugs, that is their choice but you helping reflects your humanity. Let us look people in the eye and give them a smile. A small hello. Let us tell someone in appropriate manner when we like something about them. You never know how big your small act of kindness of love is.
Let us love like Jesus who saw our weakness, brokenness, helplessness and said I want you. I love you. You are enough. I know you are not able, but I Am, and He came to mend the broken, give hope, healing and strength. Who got off the throne, came to us in human form and lived life like we live, experiencing all that brokenness, hardships and weakness we have and yet not sinning so that He may pay for us to be with Him forever. Let us love like Jesus who sat and ate with sinners. Hung out with prostitutes', murders, and all kinds of bad, discarded, unwanted, disposed people because He saw them. He saw past, their actions and mistakes to who they really are, their true potential. Love like He did as He did not support their wrong decisions but looked at them and said I see all the good in you and who you really are, stop doing that its hurting you. Who loved and died for those who cursed, tortured and beat Him and in His dying breaths said "Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do." All in the name of Love. Let us love. Let us say I see you, I hear you, I love you, and in that love we will find our humanity again.