“Perhaps the most valuable thing you can give someone in your life, is your attention… we’re all fighting hard battles, pay attention to people, see them.”1
I always wished I could see you. To read off your face the infatuation or hurt or hidden anger. To ask the choice questions that would pierce to the very depths of your dreams, your fears. I craved your story like it was the heart of who you were, your secret name that only a select few could get to.
Yet I failed. Again and again, it feels like, in club meetings and Bible studies and even on that missions trip to China, my burning curiosity flattened into banal questions about favorite foods or the weather or how classes were going. I fell for the masks you put up, took your smiles at face value, interpreted your peppy voice and constant stream of chatter as a sign I’d never really get below the surface.
And maybe you wanted it that way. Maybe to you it was a good thing. Because I wasn’t worthy of your stories, I never spent time with you anyway. Because you had no reason to trust me to not turn around and laugh at the truth about your particular darkness. Because at the end of the day, what could I do for you if I couldn’t carry your baggage or drink your poison? How could I love you in your pain if I already had no extra love to offer?
So– it’s fine. Even though I wish I could have heard you and seen you and loved you, even though I wish I could have been a better person. We passed each other on Locust Walk, or maybe even in the aisle after church service, and simply waved. Going about our oblivious orbits because we could, because we didn’t see. Because there was already too much to see.
But I also know that He did.
That he read you from the beginning – every secret longing, every hurt, every pet peeve. And he saw through every mask you put up, all the moments in between your Instagram posts and the events you said you were going to on Facebook. He was there in your darkness, He saw it and still loved you in the middle of it.
He is worthy of your stories. He won’t turn around and laugh. He can carry all the baggage you throw at him. And he has already drank your poison.
He sees you and he loves you. More than any person ever could.
1. Cory Booker, "Penn Commencement Speech 2017" (speech, Philadelphia, PA, May 15, 2017).
Phoebe Low is a senior majoring in English. She enjoys smol things like corgis and bonsai trees and would greatly appreciate advice on how to adult.