October 5, 2017
This week has been rough for so many. I woke up on Monday morning to the horrifying news of the shooting in Las Vegas. Since then, my heart has been hurting. For the lives lost, for their families, their friends. For the people who witnessed it all. I can’t even imagine.
Much like I’ve felt after other tragedies, I just pray. That’s all I can really do. But as far as actionable/tangible things to do, I feel somewhat helpless. I wish I could take the pain away for all who were directly affected and for those who have been indirectly affected, but I can’t. So where does that leave me? Where does that leave us?
It’s caused me to think more seriously about my interactions with people. Not just with family and friends, though of course they are important, but more specifically, how I interact with strangers. How can I love on the people God has placed in my path on a day to day basis? I believe that we can do some very simple things that may have a greater impact than we ever knew…
Let’s start by making eye contact. I’m serious. So often our heads are down looking at our phones while we’re checking out at the grocery store or eating out at a restaurant. How about we make an intentional effort to put those distractions down and actually look people in the eye and smile a genuine smile. When your bank teller gives you your deposit slip, or when your waitress walks up to take your order, look her in the eye, smile and ask her how her day has been. Thank her sincerely when she brings you your food or gives you your change. When the mechanic finishes changing your car oil, look him in the eye and tell him you appreciate his hard work. These are things that I have actually always tried to do, but now I feel it is even more vitally important. I know it’s so silly and so simple, but I think it actually has a greater impact than we even know.
And how about we take it a step further? How about we say their names too? Hear me out…
This is something I recently started doing — using people’s names. Now, this only works if they are wearing a nametag or if they somehow tell you their name (or you can ask for it, which I have also started doing). But I’ve found that most places I frequent (i.e. the grocery store, the post office, restaurants, etc.), people have nametags or give you their names.
In an article by Joyce E. A. Russell in The Washington Post , she says:
“Why is it so important to use people’s names? A person’s name is the greatest connection to their own identity and individuality. Some might say it is the most important word in the world to that person.
It is the one way we can easily get someone’s attention. It is a sign of courtesy and a way of recognizing them. When someone remembers our name after meeting us, we feel respected and more important. It makes a positive and lasting impression on us.”
I find this to be SO true.
So, in light of this knowledge, I’ve decided to start making an effort to paying attention to people’s names (even perfect stranger’s names) and using them. When my cashier at the grocery store hands me my receipt, I thank her using her name and wish her a lovely day. It’s amazing how I’ve seen a little spark in people’s eyes when they realize they’ve been noticed as a person and not just as my grocery bagger. I don’t know what their story is. I don’t know what they’ve been through in their life, that month, that week, or that day. All I know is that they are seen and they are important and they are loved. And if I can give them a tiny glimpse of that by using their name, then gosh darn it, I’m going to use it!
I believe that even these tiny, seemingly insignificant steps of smiling, looking people in the eye, and saying their names can have an even greater impact than we could ever imagine. I believe that we can make a difference by intentionally showing people that they are seen. It’s so easy to do and I want to encourage you to do the same.
So here is my challenge for you: Next time you go to the store or go to a restaurant or go to the bank or post office or anywhere else, be intentional about looking people in the eye, smiling, thanking them, and using their names. Then come back and leave a comment! I would love to hear about your experience!
Let’s love people today. Let’s show them that they matter and that they are seen. We could all use a little more of that…