“Does He not see my ways and number all my steps?”
Job 31:4 (NASB)
Among the tribes in Northern Natal in South Africa, the tribes greet each other with an equivalent to “hello.” It is the phrase “Sawu bona” which means “I see you.” If you are a member of the tribe you reply, “Sikhona” which is equivalent to saying, “I am here.” The order of this exchange is important because it is saying that until you are seen—you do not exist. In other words, when you are seen, you are brought into existence.
Why is it important to see people? As you are probably aware, many people in our culture feel invisible. In contemporary language—they feel like they are vague images with pixels missing—longing for someone to acknowledge their existence. When someone sees them, they move quickly from black and white apparitions to deep, rich colorful human beings of immeasurable interest.
A very simple way to see people, acknowledge them and inspire a connection is to be bold enough to make the first move. I was sitting across from a woman recently that I did not know well. I soon realized it was an opportunity to see her and I began to connect—first with eye contact—and then by asking her a couple of questions out of genuine interest.
When were you the most happy in your life? How do you want to be remembered? These questions opened up a fascinating window into her life that revealed so much about her values and desires. When personal information is revealed, intimacy is increased, pixels fill in and the real person begins to materialize in front of our eyes. That is what happened in this situation and we moved quickly from being acquaintances to becoming friends.
My Heavenly Father, who manages the universe and watches over billions of people, makes time for me. He sees me and knows me. I am mirroring His values when I choose to see individuals the way He does—and I invest time in them. He even gives me creative questions to ask to bring all the pixels together into focus for everyone to see!