There was once an old man. His wife had died a few years back and he lived a quiet existence in a small apartment in the middle of a big city. With no family around, no grandkids to bounce on his knee, no children to brag or worry over, no close friends, all he had was his own thoughts to keep him company.
Nothing in his apartment eased his loneliness. The TV and radio provided a one sided conversation, but there was nothing in the house to listen to him. The silent pictures of his once vibrant wife on the table would bring him to tears. He loved her beautiful face, but he missed her touch, her voice, her laughter, her company.
Nothing in his apartment even verified his existence. The apartment was always neat and clean, dishes always done, everything in its place. Sometimes he would leave a coffee mug on the kitchen table for a day or two, just to make it feel like someone lived there. Mostly, it felt as if time had suddenly stopped in his tiny home. The memories were all he possessed, and all he could see in the future was the same repetitive day of waking, eating, watching TV and then going to sleep, until he died.
There came a point where he began to wonder if he even existed. Was he dead? Was he a character in some sort of cruel nightmare? Was he in hell? The toll of his loneliness was driving him mad.
In his lonely and dark world, he simply desired one thing. To be seen. If he was seen, that meant he was real. He desperately wanted to feel real.
One morning he woke and decided today was going to be the day. He would venture out of his apartment and see if he was real.
He joined the walking throng of people scurrying to and fro on the busy city streets. His watery, old eyes desperately looked to connect with another person, to see a friendly nod, to be looked at in the eye. As he shuffled along the sidewalk, he found himself alone again, in a city full of strangers. The watery eyes leaked tears as he feared again, that he was invisible, just a specter in this sea of living, breathing, moving humanity.
Through a sheet of tears, he continued walk, searching the faces of the crowd around him, looking for connection, even brief. Panic started to crawl up his arms into his head as the world around him continued to verify his nightmare…he could not be seen.
He started to feel faint, his worn out body broken by the heartache and anxiety. The tear streaked face turned pale. His knobby knees buckled and he lurched forward, unconscious. His broken,tired and lonely heart stopped.
There, on the street where moments ago, the old man was just another person in a city full of strangers, the strangers stopped and saw him. Gentle hands touched him, urgent voices asked him if he was OK. All eyes were on him, looking at him. Hearts were concerned and scared for him. He was real. His heart began to beat again.
The old man isn’t the only one who desperately wishes to be seen. So does the mom at the park with the messy ponytail and the bags under her eyes. She feels embarrassingly frumpy as she didn’t have the time to care for herself. That time often goes to her little ones. She sees you across the playground. She wants to talk with you but she can’t bring herself to do it. To talk to you in her vulnerable state, to share some of herself with you. Soon she’ll pack up the kids and go back home where her kids will make sure she won’t be alone but her heart is lonely.
There is the couple across the street. They go to work, they come home. The garage door opens, the garage door shuts. They go inside together, but that is where the together ends. He gets on his computer. She turns on the TV. Both of them, deep in their hearts grieve the marriage that was once full of laughter and love. Where they felt known by each other. Now each day is a small exchange of pleasantries followed by silent togetherness. They share a house , but they feel alone.
There isn’t a person walking the earth who’s heart isn’t crying out to be truly known and truly loved. From the oldest person to the tiniest baby, human beings were designed to be intimately known and loved. Without it, we wither away.
If I were bold enough, I would tell the old man, the mom at the playground and the couple across the street this truth, a truth that I often remind myself:
God knows you intimately. To have faith that you are known by God magnifies His grace and promotes humility. To a life marred by failure and disappointment (which is the life of every human being from one degree to another), to be known by God supplies comfort and instills significance.
Christian, hear this truth: YOU are known intimately by God. There is nothing about you that He doesn’t know, both the good and bad, and he sees your worth and dignity despite your mistakes, failures and flaws.
You are seen by God and He loves what he sees. Even if you feel unseen, Someone sees you, and grieves with you in your loneliness because he has been there too.
You are loved by God. Loved enough that God gave up his most treasured Son to bring you back to life and back to Him.
Let your heart sing in knowing that you are fully known, seen and loved, always.