This past weekend while we were vacationing in Nashville, Jordan and I had the opportunity to go out on a date night sans baby, thanks to our wonderful friends David and Julie :). We ended up going to this awesome restaurant & bar called Sambucca in the downtown area for dessert & wine (oh those blissful pre -sugar free days…). It was a fun little 3 story, split-level place with live music and possibly the best dessert I have ever tasted in my entire life!
While we were enjoying the sugar, spirits, and social time together, I couldn’t help but notice that our waitress reminded me so much of a friend of mine. Each time she came to check on us, I would think about this friend of mine: how she is a single mom with a son who is about to turn 1, about to finish grad school, has been looking for a job, is beautiful, hilarious, witty, and an excellent writer. As I thought about this, our waitress started to become more of a person to me. I wondered if she had any kids or if she was in school, and what her life story was. It started to humble me that she was spending her evening serving us. I wondered what she was going home to at the end of the night. We don’t usually think about people who serve us each day like this, do we? At least I don’t, if I’m honest. But this encounter with a waitress who looked like a real person that I know changed my perspective. It made me think about something my husband often talks about that challenges me like crazy.
He says that we all live our lives as if they’re “The Truman Show.” If you haven’t seen the movie, basically Jim Carrey plays a man (Truman) whose life is a reality show without him knowing. All of the people in his life are actually hired actors and actresses who follow a script to form Truman’s life experiences and entertain the audience. Although we may not admit it (or may have never thought about it), we live our lives like Truman. We live as if every person that we encounter is simply an actor or actress playing a specific role in our own story. Had our waitress not looked like my friend, she simply would have been an extra in the show of my life who served me wine and cheese cake. She would have no mind, heart, soul or depth, but simply a role that presents her the task of carrying a plate and a glass and setting it before me with a smile on her face. But that is not actually true of her. She does have a mind, heart, soul and depth to her. She has a life that almost certainly contains many joys, sorrows, victories and defeats. She has interests, thoughts, and ideas. There are people she cares about and places she loves to be. In the same way, I am a person with a mind, heart and soul with my own joys, sorrows and cares. Yet to her, I was likely one out of many customers that she served on one random night at work. A forgettable face playing a tiny role in her show.
I wish I could stop thinking about myself so much. I want to notice the people around me. That’s what Jesus did. In the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) Jesus notices a random guy that no one else with him cares to pay attention to. The text tells us that Zacchaeus was a tax collector, a wealthy man, and that he was short. These sound like typical things we notice about or identify people as in our small encounters with them as they play small roles in our lives (Salesman, tall, average looking; or bank teller, blonde, well dressed). But Jesus knew that there was much more to Zacchaeus then those few things, and he did the unexpected: he invited himself to dine with him! And Zaccaeus came to know him, calling him “Lord.” Instead of overlooking Zaccheaus as a passerby like the others with him would, he stopped and noticed him. He acknowledged him as a person (although others disapproved, since Zaccheaus was a tax collector and “sinner,” highly disliked in that time) and dined with him.
I’m thankful that Jesus notices the people who I do not, and that he even noticed me (a sinner like Zaccheaus). Each of us were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26). He knit us together in the womb and we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139). Not just you and me but the woman who rang up my
very necessary items at Target today, the man who scanned my ROO cup when I got my free refill, and the man who brought us our mail.
Covered in grace, I pray that Jesus would give me his eyes to see what he does in all of the whole, real people around me, living their stories and loved by the God who made them.