It’s a simple act. A simple gesture. But it makes a huge difference.
There is a sweet, elderly man who attends my church. Though he is getting on in years, he has a handshake and grip that puts many young men to shame. He reminds me so much of my late father-in-law, a man who also grew up in the era where a handshake meant something.
I can’t help but find this man at church during the greeting time, just to say “hello,” shake his hand, and chat with him a little bit. I have shared with him and his wife that he reminds me so much of my father-in-law, and being able to talk a little bit with him each Sunday blesses me because it makes me remember the kind, gentle man who accepted me as his daughter 26 years ago.
So I was taken aback a little bit this past Sunday when I shook his hand and he wouldn’t let go. He stood there holding my hand as we talked and then looked me straight in the eyes and said,
“Thank you for noticing me.”
This simple little phrase has rung in my head and heart since he spoke it, and even found its way into my Bible, just to always remind me about that simple act of noticing people, of shaking their hand, of giving them a smile, and letting them know that they have value and worth.
And as I continue to think about it, I can’t help but think of all of the children in the world. And really, aren’t we all “children”? Children living in poverty.
Children who are living the nightmare of human trafficking. Children who are forced to be child soldiers. Children living in broken homes. Children who are crying out to be noticed.
Noticing someone who is deliberately and inappropriately trying to be noticed is not what I am talking about. Though I do admit that some of those deliberate attempts at being noticed are simply cries for help and shouldn’t necessarily be ignored.
All people have the need to feel valued and cared for. If we are willing to open our hearts to those cries, our world could be changed — one person at a time.
Through my correspondence with our Compassion children, I have often read these words penned by the children, “Thank you for choosing me.” In a sense, they are saying, “Thank you for noticing me.”
I take those words as a firm handshake and an intent look in the eyes, and I am humbled.
A simple act. A simple gesture. But it makes a huge difference.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Teri Gerdes and her family sponsored their first Compassion child in 2004. After returning from a sponsor tour in Ecuador, her family sponsored three children and are correspondent sponsors to four additional children.
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