The Power of Noticing

As human beings, we have certain desires. Sometimes we are aware of these desires. Other times we are not. We have a desire to eat, breathe, have sex, etc. Desires are designed to be fulfilled. We satisfy our desire to eat by consuming food. Desires are not bad, but they can get out of control. If we eat whatever we want whenever we want, then we will likely experience health problems.

One desire that we all have is that of being noticed. We want people to know we exist. We want to be seen and heard. We want people to see our Facebook updates and like them. We want to know that we are missed. To go unnoticed is a terrible feeling. It feels as if one does not matter, or has nothing to contribute. It is a feeling of loneliness and isolation. Most human beings cannot live in total isolation for a long period. It is not healthy. We need contact with other human beings.

This desperation to be noticed can sometimes manifest itself in ways that are not healthy. On occasion, children will act out for attention. Adults may do things they later regret. Why are so many people willing to go on TV and make a fool of themselves? Some may be seeking fame, but others may just want to be noticed by someone. Going unnoticed can cause despair that can lead to poor decisions, addiction, suicide, etc.

The good news about Christianity is that we serve a God who notices. He doesn’t just notice the powerful or the popular. He notices people on the margins of society. In fact, you could say that he notices these people before he notices anyone else. When God came to earth and took on flesh, he sought out lepers, widows, sinners, prostitutes, and others. He noticed all the people that were going unnoticed.

God is described in different ways throughout Scripture, but one of the most endearing terms that refers to God is Father. We desperately want approval from our parents. We want to be loved and accepted. The message of the Bible is that God loves us like a parent. He is our Father. He loves us unconditionally. He may be disappointed at times when we do not do what is right, but God always notices, and he wants the best for us. Even when we fail, he still loves us.

The Bible is full of all kinds of information. It tells us about God, but it also tells us how we are supposed to act. This is sometimes referred to as ethics. What God expects of us is to follow in his footsteps. God is our model. For many years, people did not know what God looked like, but then he came to earth and lived among us. Our goal in life is to be like Jesus. To be a Christian is to be like Christ.

Jesus is many things, but one thing in particular that we need to pay attention to is how he interacted with others. Jesus was compassionate. He took the time to eat with people and show them he cared. He was aware of the needs of others and did what he could to address those needs. Jesus noticed people, and this was part of his ministry.

One of the greatest things we can do as a Christian is to notice people. There are people all around us who want one thing. They want someone to see them. They want someone to listen to them. They want someone to comment on something they have done. They want someone to invite them out to a meal. These seem like small things, but to some people they are not small at all. In fact, sometimes a simple conversation or friendly invitation can lead to a life-changing experience.

Ask yourself, “Who in my life has gone unnoticed?” Perhaps it is someone you work with, or maybe someone you see each day in the school pickup line. Often there are people in our congregations who go unnoticed every Sunday. They may sit in the back. They may dress a little differently or act in a peculiar way. They may try to rush out the door at the end of the closing song. It may not look like it, but these people desperately need a Christian brother or sister to step into their lives and take notice. Ministry opportunities await us each time we grace the door of our church building. People do not come to worship because they are perfect. They come to worship because they need something. They need Jesus. They need to be forgiven. They need a Christian family to love and notice them like family should.

Scott Elliott is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and Austin Graduate School of Theology. He lives in La Grange, TX and is the minister for the La Grange Church of Christ. He is married and has two sons. He enjoys writing about the Christian faith and posting the occasional film review. His articles and reviews have appeared in RELEVANT magazine, Englewood Review of Books, and other publications.

3 Comments
  1. Reply
    Michael Mobley November 4, 2015 at 7:54 am

    Do you think that with the advent of the digital social networking that the desire to be noticed has been intensified? Of course, an desire intensified will result in increased behaviors.

    • Reply
      Scott Elliott November 9, 2015 at 10:12 am

      Great question Michael! Sherry Turkle has done some outstanding work in this area. One thing she has noticed in her research is that rather than kids being overly obsessed with technology, it is the parents who will not put down their phones to notice their children. Kids quickly pick up on this and are bothered by it. Of course, this extends further than the relationships between children and parents. I think technology is a wonderful thing, but at the same time we need to think through how it affects us.

  2. Reply
    Lindsay Ray November 6, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    Awesome reminder of how we should treat others!

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