Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Do you ever wonder about what you don't see?

“Do you ever wonder about what you don’t see?”  My pastor asked this weekend during his sermon.

You have no idea. I thought, nodding my head.

Often high functioning people with CP struggle with visual-spatial relationships.  I don’t easily understand maps. I didn’t really grasp how to draw a straight line with a ruler until I was in tenth grade. The day I figured it out in geometry was amazing.  (I still own said ruler).  I can’t remember what side of the envelope the stamp goes on.  I’ve gotten lost in the one-story elementary school building that I’ve worked in for six years. Our Dean of Students caught me one day, walking in the hall, confused.  I was ten kinds of embarrassed! I’ve gotten lost in my own neighborhood, even though there’s really only one road.  Truth is, you could remodel your house, display all the Christmas lights you own, or hang out on your lawn with your six children….I might not notice.

This summer, fed up and frustrated with my inability to perceive all that was in front of me, I went to see a neurological ophthalmologist.  He dilated my pupils until I looked like a feline, took blinding pictures of my optic nerves, and told me to come back for a field of vision test.  I hoped that he could give me some answers, explaining why hallways sometimes look like mazes or why I have to tell myself that my contact case really is in front of me when the bathroom counter resembles a cruel game of I SPY.  Hundreds of dollars later, he had nothing to offer.  Suddenly, I was the bleeding woman in Mark 5.  I had spent all my money and it had gotten me nowhere.

All of this has caused me to do one thing, wonder about what I don’t see.  Beyond my toothbrush and my car keys, I’ve begun to wonder about the people in my life who are overlooked and have considered how I might notice and include them.  Want to join me?  I don’t have all the answers; I know I’ll continue to miss people that are right in front of me, but here’s a few things I’ve tried that help.

1.     When I’m alone, I regularly spend time thinking about people.  Who needs to be encouraged?  Who needs to be thanked?  What big things are going on in people’s lives that need to be noticed the next time I see them?  Who seems lonely, excluded, undervalued?  How can I come alongside these people, so they’ll feel they belong?  Who am I struggling with right now and how I can bring peace into that relationship?  Who haven’t I seen in a while?

2.     Before I go into spaces where I know there will be lots of people, I remind myself to slow down.  I think some of my inability to see others has to do with my own hurriedness.  I’ve noticed that slowing down helps me focus, perceive more people who are in a crowd, and improve my ability to listen.

3.     I regularly ask God for help.  Throughout the spaces of the day, I simply exhale and ask, “God, help me see.”  This reminds me of the ongoing invitation to see, value, and include others, my inability to do it well, and God’s desire to help.

What helps you notice and include others?

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  1. What a beautiful telling and incredible irony, as I know you as someone who so intentionally sees the unseen, Jenny. Funny that some of us are able to see some things and others are able to see other things. I guess that's why we need each other--and perspectives like what you've shared with us here. Thank you.

    1. It's good for me to be reminded Kristin that I need others in my life. No one can do it all or see it all alone. Thanks for reading.

  2. This was such an encouraging post.
    I enjoy reading about what you have to say on your blog.

    1. Glad to hear it Marie! Have a good day!