I didn’t expect a holy revelation this morning, especially not inside a sterile medical clinic. I was there with my twelve-year-old son Asher, who needed a sports physical for Cross Country.
It wasn’t where I wanted to be, today being “writing day” and all. But the sorrow in his eyes last night upon learning he would miss his first meet today without proper paperwork nudged me past my selfish tendencies. “I’ll take you in the morning,” I told him, knowing it was the right thing to do, even if not the most convenient.
And it was there, my son up on the exam table, the doctor listening to him breathe in and out as she moved her stethoscope around his small body, that something unexpected happened.
It wasn’t a huge smile, more like a shy grin. But I know my son, and I knew that the gentle curve of his lips as he quietly participated in this most basic exercise was evidence of something good happening inside his typically guarded heart.
He felt significant.
In that moment, my son was unquestionably the sole object of another human’s interest. There were no other siblings competing for attention, no distractions of screens or other activity. Just an earnest, skilled person giving my son her full attention. His subtle smile was evidence of the uncommon pleasure he felt.
Sitting there watching, I couldn’t help wondering how overlooked he must feel much of the time, at home, at school, at church… So many other kids, conversations and chaos happening all around him; so little of it directed toward seeing, knowing, the heart of who he is. Of who God created him to be. And it struck me that most of us feel this same lack of significance as we rush through our days, jumping from one thing to the next, fighting to rise above the fray and make our voices heard.
So we can stand out.
So we can be noticed.
So we can feel significant.
For all our striving, however, we can’t assign significance to ourselves. True significance is only experienced in the context of relationship. It is when someone else chooses to see us, to listen to us, to question us, to affirm us, that we begin to believe we really matter.
Our Heavenly Father has already assigned to us the ultimate significance, in creating us and then saving us through the sacrifice of his son, Jesus. We are beyond significant to God. As his image-bearers, we are called to embrace this truth to the best of our ability. We are also called to share it with others. Which means we must be intentional about celebrating the significance of the precious people God puts in our lives.
“Do you ever feel overlooked?” I asked Asher as we headed back to school.
“I don’t know what you mean by that,” he replied, clearly suspicious that this conversation might be headed somewhere he didn’t feel like going right then. So I changed tack.
“Would you like more one-on-one time with me?” I asked.
“Maybe,” he answered.
And then he looked out the window.