My husband recently got prescription glasses. He doesn’t really like the fact he needs them so he only wears them when he absolutely has to – usually to read fine print. I most often see him wearing them at night as he reads his favorite Vince Flynn novels. He doesn’t know it, but the sight of him nestled in bed reading his book with his glasses on stops me cold. My heart softens.
I see him as fully human – the details in his fabric that make him the good man he is.
I see him as a little kid doing something he loves, and I want to protect him from hurt or worry.
I see him as a strong and loving man who puts others before himself, and I want to love him well.
It’s funny. Since Scott got his glasses, I’m getting better at reading the fine print too—his fine print … the joy in his belly laugh, the worry lines around his eyes, the way he pulls the trashcans to the curb every Thursday morning so I don’t have to, the way his tongue sticks out when he’s concentrating, the way he leans in when helping Avery with math at the kitchen table.
The closer I look at Scott’s fine print, the more my love expands … the more of his world I see and understand.
“What becomes available to us when we greet one another as fully human?” Margaret Wheatley once said. Out of all the thought-provoking questions I’ve heard in my life, that one holds a coveted spot in my brain. It comes to mind more often than any other, though the answer has always been a little fuzzy. As someone wired to choose productivity above pause … tasks over rest … and control over connection, I know I often miss seeing the most important details of people.
Thankfully, I have two role models who don’t. Although my daughters’ personalities are vastly different – one is Type A, the other is Type N (Noticer) – neither of them miss other people’s fine print.
This summer, Natalie held several camps in our basement for neighborhood children. The night before the final day of Survivor Camp, one of the mothers texted me with the attached photo. She wrote:
“We tried the new caramel M&M’s this week and my son immediately said, ‘These taste like a Twix! Miss Natalie would like these because Twix are her favorite. Can we share these with her?’ This spawned a plan gleefully executed by my child and his Omi this afternoon. It will probably look like nothing more than a bag of candy to Natalie, but it was a carefully executed plan by a grateful nine year old. It's making this mama a little weepy, but in the best of ways, because I'm grateful, especially after a rocky week, to her for her inspiring efforts, and to him for having a generous and thankful heart.”
I took a minute to consider the intricacies of this powerful gesture.
In order for the boy to know Natalie’s favorite candy, she had to tell her students what it was. I’d peeked in on her camp a few times during the week and noticed how she played music they liked and talked to them as she would fellow peers. Although she was older and clearly the one in charge, she treated her campers as human beings with value, creativity, and wisdom. She also revealed parts of herself to them, like her favorite candy, exotic places she hopes to travel someday, and the pain and growth that comes with taking risks.
And while all that was happening, a 9-year-old boy was listening, noticing, remembering … a 9-year-old boy was reading the fine print of another human being.
The boy’s mother suspected the gift would look like an ordinary bag of candy to Natalie, but that was not the case. That night my daughter came to me and said, “Mom, did you see this?”
As she held out the bag, I detected both delight and astonishment in her voice. “How did he know?” she smiled.
Thoughtful gifts in shiny packages are this girl’s love language. She never told the boy that, but he picked up on it.
I’m not quite sure what I expected to happen when I showed my younger daughter Avery the heartbreaking photo of the nursing home residents stranded in their flooded nursing home earlier this week. Knowing how much my 11-year-old daughter loves elderly people, I thought she might like to hear of their story and their rescue.
As I watched the color drain from her face, I immediately I wish I hadn’t subjected her to the distressing scene.
“They were rescued,” I reminded her.
“But were ALL of them saved?” she asked, appearing to be on the verge of tears.
“Yes, yes,” I assured. “They were all airlifted to safety.”
The next thing out of her mouth was that she wanted to go see her elderly friend Annie. So the next evening, we drove to Annie’s nursing home. It was eerily quiet as we walked down the hall for severe dementia patients to see our friend.
Just then, a caregiver came out of Annie’s room. “You'll have to come back another day,” she told us as she shut the door.
My daughter’s face fell, but not for long. She pulled me by the hand down the hall. “Remember Mama J? Let’s go see her.”
We happened to meet Mama J last winter by accident when we took our cat Paisley around to see the residents. Mama J is bed ridden. It is tough for her to even raise her head. That day, she called Paisley her “Little Lamb” sent by God to let her know she had not been forgotten.
When we walked in her room on Tuesday night, Mama J let out a cry of joy. “Oh, my Lord!” she declared when saw Avery with her guitar. “I can’t believe it! Do you know what day it is? It is my birthday! I am 96-years-old today, and this is the best gift I could ever receive!”
Avery looked at me with astonishment and began to strum. She quickly filled the dark room with uplifting chords as Mama J watched in amazement.
Avery played four songs for Mama J. Occasionally, Mama would tilt her head back and laugh in pure disbelief. A few times, she bowed her head and wept with joy. But consistently, she repeated the same two questions over and over. She said, “Do you hear what I hear? Do you see what I see?”
A beautiful child coming to serenade her on her 96th birthday almost seemed too good to be true.
But not quite.
What becomes available to us when we greet each other as fully human? Miraculous results … things that cannot be explained … things that deeply touch the heart … that’s what.
The more we seek to read each others’ fine print, the more love flourishes … the more joy we bring to the world … the better we see and understand each other.
In light of the traumatic events happening in our country and around the world, I can’t help but think this is the answer we are searching for right now. From our digital distractions, to our judgments and divisions, to our natural disasters and manmade crises, we face obstructions that prevent us from seeing each other as fully human.
But overcoming obstructions to get a clear view of each other’s hearts only takes a bit of effort:
And holding each other close.
We can begin with the people right in front of us – the ones wearing glasses and fuzzy socks in our beds at night … the ones who forget to take their medication and leave their library books on the kitchen counter … the ones who put letters in our mailboxes and serve our food with a weary smile.
The closer we look at each other’s fine print, the more our love expands … the more we see and understand each other … the more we give HOPE a fighting chance.
Some folks say we need a miracle to get out of the mess we’re in.
I believe they’re right …
Because I saw it in the fine print of some beautiful souls.
And that gives me great hope for the future.
I hope it does you too.
Dear ones, I know you have been hurting with our brothers and sisters in Texas and yearning for a way to directly support them. Thanks to a dear friend of mine who is also a member of our Hands Free Revolution community, we have one! Beginning tomorrow, her church will take the first of many trips to Houston with supplies that meet dire and immediate needs of displaced people. By partnering with a local church in Houston that ministers to the homeless and economically disadvantaged population, these donations will go directly to those in need. Below is a list of needed items as well as the shipping address of my dear friend. Their goal is to fill two 28-foot trucks each time they go. Additionally, I am offering free domestic shipping for all products in the Hands Free shop until 9/8 and donating 40% of the proceeds to purchase items from the list below. So if you’ve had your eye on something in the shop – like the Made With Love Lunch Notes or the ONLY LOVE TODAY, COME AS YOU ARE, or I CHOOSE LOVE cuffs or bracelets – now would be a great time! The promo code for free domestic shipping is: HARVEYHOPE.
Here are the needed items:
Small Toys/clean Stuffed Animals
Non-perishable food items
Baby Items-Diapers/Wipes/Baby Food/ Formula
Please ship items to:
100 Cresendo Place
Joshua, TX 76058
My friends, thank you for being part of this beautiful community that is a mighty force of goodness, hope, and love in the world. I am so thankful for you. Mobile, Alabama, I can’t wait to hug you on September 22 at the Focus Women’s Conference being held at the convention center. Early bird ticket pricing ends September 1. Click here to secure your ticket while at its lowest price. The line-up of powerful women speakers is a sight to behold! Love you all dearly.