Seeing and Being Seen

This is my last post for October’s 31 Days Writing Challenge. While I didn’t write every day I was able to get a lot of the thoughts that have been percolating in my brain out onto the page. And I still have more things I’d like to write so I think I’ll continue with November’s NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). This one is less restrictive in that I can post anything – it doesn’t have to follow a particular topic. So you’ll continue to see more of me.

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On to my post for October 31…

Something was shared with me that beautifully speaks to connection and vulnerability. There is a common greeting among some tribes in South Africa; it would be equivalent to saying “hello” in English. The expression is Sawubona which literally means, “I see you”. A common response to this greeting is Sikhona which means, “I am here”. The order of the exchange is important as according to their tradition, until you see me, I do not exist. It’s as if, when you see me, you bring me into existence. It means we do not exist without each other and our existence holds little meaning if we are not seen.

This speaks to connection. We are wired to feel connected to others, to feel that we belong. How many times do we feel “unseen”, that people don’t see who we really are or that we have no voice? I know I’ve felt that lots. It is a horrible feeling and often tied to a sense of shame. Sometimes it wasn’t ‘safe’ to be seen so I learned to hide myself. Unfortunately, for me, it also meant I hid myself from me – I didn’t know who I really was (I’m still growing into that as I learn to take down my vulnerability armour from the past).

If you’re in an environment where the people you long to feel connected to are using their energies to keep their vulnerability armour in place, it means they have limited capacity to actually “see” you and you don’t feel ‘safe’ to be “seen”. So everyone stays walled up within themselves. It can be a vicious cycle.

Yet I believe there is hope for us. If we collectively learn to take down the vulnerability armour and intentionally allow ourselves to be seen and then to intentionally see others, we will significantly increase our sense of connection with each other. And that’s a good thing. It will take vulnerability – showing up and being seen always does. But the connection and empathy and love we will experience is absolutely worth it.

The alternative is disconnection and staying walled up in our fortresses, not letting anyone in and not letting ourselves out. It might promise the illusion of being ‘safe’ but in the long run it crushes our souls.

We need each other. We are shaped by each other. It is in our relationships that we experience love and belonging and connection and empathy. These are the things we need to walk through this world that is marred by struggle and pain. Without them, we are dying inside.

So I want to encourage all of us to intentionally take small steps to “show up and be seen”. To embrace vulnerability, even in small ‘baby-steps’ ways. To risk. And even though we will fall down sometimes, don’t be afraid to get back up again. Find those people who truly care about you, let them carry you through the hard stuff. But don’t shut yourself out from the world. Because we need you and the light that you bring and the Imago Dei that is represented in you. You are beautiful and you are loved and you are “seen”.

Grace and peace to you this day.

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In the vein of “being seen”, I’m curious to “see” you and know who has been following me this month. If you could “like” my Facebook post link or add a comment here in the comments section, I would love that. Thanks!

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