My church is currently doing a bible study based on Mike Frost’s book Surprise the World: The Five Habits of Highly Missional People.
The first of these habits was ‘bless’, and the challenge to bless 3 people each week, through words of affirmation, gifts, or random acts of kindness.
I wonder whether some of the power, regardless of the words, gift or action, is that it says to the person “I see you”. I see that you are stressing about your study at the moment. I see that you are battling with ill health. I see that you could use an excuse to smile. I see that you are growing increasingly tired because of home life. I see that you are an amazing friend. I see that you could use a little encouragement and a reminder of your value. I see how hard you are working at school. I see you.
The second habit was ‘eat’, and the challenge to eat or share a coffee with 3 people each week.
I wonder whether some of the power in this habit is the opportunity and space it provides for conversation, for listening to the other person. I wonder whether some of the power is that it says to the person “I hear you”.
Food, and the sharing of it together at a table, can have a special ability to bring people together at an equal level. It can help remove hierarchies and preconceptions of power and authority, if only for the length of the meal. Personal sharing and intimate listening can occur because of the space created. It can say to someone, I hear how much you enjoy playing in your school cricket team. I hear that your favourite time of the week is taking your dog for a walk along the beach. I hear that you are worried about a grandparent’s health. I hear that you are questioning what you should do after Year 12. I hear that you are struggling with anxiety at the moment. I hear how much you love reading bedtime stories to your baby brother. I hear you.
I wonder where saying “I see you” and “I hear you” to someone might lead…