Oh, to be noticed

It’s Sunday night—probably Monday morning by the time you read this post. I was just sitting by the fire and thinking backward when it occurred to me that I should let you know what’s on my mind.

I fought a brutal battle against feeling insignificant for years. It culminated on another cold night a few years ago while I was sitting on a curb, in my neighborhood, with my dog. It’s a story for another day, but I came to realize that evening that I was significant because my Heavenly Father chooses to spend time with me.

The victory came from space. Not outer space, but realizing that since no one else—not the dog that was sitting between my legs, nor my dear wife with whom I sleep—can occupy the same time and space that I do, I’m singular. These can be close, but they can’t be completely integrated into where I am.

Therefore, no one occupies the same place in time and space that I do…except for my Father, who lives in me. That makes me significant. Singular. Important. Noticed and valuable by virtue of the fact that God spends time alone with me.

He could be anywhere. Everywhere. And He is. But most importantly, He is in me, where I am, and no one else is there—can’t be—and that makes me singularly significant.

Like I said, it’s a story for another day.

Significance and recognition—the subject of my thoughts this cold night—are not synonyms. Father resolves my need to be significant by connecting with me, and with me alone, in my space and time and place.

But recognition is different. Of course, He recognizes, e.g. “Well done, good and faithful servant,” but I believe He intends for those around us to play a part in our recognition.

Herein is the problem. God is dependable and absolutely faithful, and I wish the same could be said for me. But I am human, fatally flawed, and undependable. When humanity is introduced into your equation, you should expect disappointment. Drag.

I need to be recognized. To be sure, I won’t die without it, but I will suffer without it. Analogously, I need to be touched, but I won’t die without it. Like my need to be touched, I need to be recognized, and while Father is sufficient to carry me forward with/without touch, He is sufficient to carry me forward with/without recognition. I believe this. I believe Him. So, I’m OK in the long run, but I feel vulnerable sitting snuggly by my fire.

It is tricky to manage this battle against recognition—to be noticed. It is not as clearly defined as the battle with significance. It comes down to what a friend of mine calls “keeping your own counsel.” From my experience, keeping my own counsel is like balancing the ingredients in a complex recipe. Get it right, it’s good. Get it wrong, you feed it to Fred (that’s our garbage disposal’s name). Fred lives large at our house.

There are those aspects of life that Father deems so important that He singularly takes care of them, e.g. significance. There are those aspects of life that Father partners with us to achieve, e.g. recognition.