This Instagram update was my wake-up call to start noticing people
Two years ago the following YouTube video went viral for obvious reasons. It's compelling. It's challenging. And it's a message I needed to hear again after an Instagram update made me question how much I really care about others.
"Give people your love, don't give them your like," the orator says.
These words made me think about something that happened to me at the start of the year. Many friends and people I follow on Instagram were posting reflections and photo collages from the previous year. Yearbook-style, these posts commemorated the passing year and welcomed the new one.
Scrolling through my feed I saw one such update from a close friend. She shared that the previous year had included lots of highs and lows. Among the lows she listed was a miscarriage the previous Fall.
Reader--I burst into tears at this news, but not for the reason you think.
I was crying because this was the first time I'd heard about her miscarriage.
I'd spent countless hours of my life with this friend. She was a key support for me through my own heartache with infertility years before. And here I was, learning about such a heavy sadness months later through Instagram.
I remember immediately going back through her feed. I'd seen her posts throughout the autumn and holiday seasons. I saw my own name listed among those who liked her updates.
"Give people your love, don't give them your like."
Clearly I'd given her my like, but to miss something so big was like a Giant Red Warning Sign.
I'd failed to give her my love.
Learning to Notice People
In The Jesus-Centered Life, author Rick Lawrence says something that I wish I'd taken more to heart with my friend. He writes,
"Few of us ever feel noticed. Even fewer feel ridiculously noticed."
Jesus ridiculously noticed people during his ministry on Earth. He looked beyond the cultural stereotypes of his time and saw people. He cut through questions and went straight to the heart of the questioner. He challenged. He comforted. And he knew which one the person in front of him needed more.
To be like him is to notice like him.
We can't really notice people through our phones.
As I regretfully learned that morning on Instagram, noticing--ridiculously noticing--can't be done through a smartphone or a like. There's too much left unshared in these public spaces. Noticing is touch, eye contact, presence.
These were the things I'd failed to give my friend. We were busy, and months had passed since we'd sat together in a room and caught up, face to face. I was kidding myself when I thought that seeing her status updates, filled with photos from Halloween and Christmas, meant that we were connected. Her miscarriage was my wake-up call.
I called her that day and left a voicemail. "I just saw your update," I said, "and I'm so sorry I'm hearing it for the first time this way. Please forgive me." Since then we've talked and gotten together and shared the real news of our lives.
I still like Instagram, and I still offer my likes. But the Holy Spirit is challenging me to give more by ridiculously noticing the people he's put in my daily life.
Join me in this challenge to notice.
The next time you see the status update of a friend, pause and pray for them. Listen to the Holy Spirit to see if he prompts you to go deeper, to reach out, or to notice. Then follow through with love.