Gisele Nelson: Coffee drinker, reader and book collector, porch sitter, organizer, so-so piano player, obsessed with Google docs, master of old-lady-phrases, and good listener.
I was sitting in church a few weeks ago and kept having the thought go through my head that every person’s deepest, most basic desire is to be seen as human. It maybe sounds ridiculous. Of COURSE we’re all human. But digging a little deeper, I thought about how we want to be seen for the reality that we’re made up of both good parts and bad parts regardless of how good we are at what we do. We are complex creatures desiring to be treated with dignity, love and care. We want to be seen as more than what we do or can produce, we want our souls to be seen. We want to have the freedom and courage to be vulnerable and honest and to still be respected and heard even amidst disagreements.
The most careless and frequent way we remove others humanity is by neglecting their vulnerability. When we don’t leave room in our lives to acknowledge, respond to, and respect another’s vulnerability we are losing an opportunity to see them in all their glorious humanness. Apart from seeing a person for their vulnerability and all that entails (honesty, pain, failure, victory, and how we feel about each of these things) if we neglect to acknowledge that part of them, we risk only seeing others for their contributions. We might reduce others to what they produce.
I don’t have it all figured out. It’s a work in progress. As I’m a mostly task oriented person, I frequently see others as what they produce rather than for who they are, and what makes them human. I catch myself doing it by being frustrated when things don’t get done on time, or when I’m held up from finishing what I’m supposed to do because I’m dependent on someone else and what they’re doing. But I’m trying to intentionally rework how I see others. I’m trying to slow down, set my tasks aside for moments in the day and remember why it is I do what I do. What propels me headlong into the tasks that I ache to see accomplished? What motivates me to do what I do? When I see most clearly, it’s always because of the vulnerability of others, and out of the desire to see their brokenness made whole. When I lose sight of this, I not only rob others of their humanity, I rob myself of mine as well.
We are not what we accomplish, no matter how good it is. We are not an empty inbox, a filled order, or a perfectly checked off “to-do” list. You and I are human.