My mother recently shared with me that in certain parts of Africa people greet one another by saying “Sawubona,” which means “I see you”. According to a Huffington Post article by Glen Pearson, the phrase is an African Zulu greeting and equates to saying, “‘I see your personality. I see your humanity. I see your dignity and respect.'” What a testimony to the full engagement of human interaction and relationship! Even more so, how convicting is such a statement of complete recognition in comparison to the brief and impersonal greetings of our own culture.
I’ve come to a deeper understanding of humanity’s fundamental need to be recognized and reassured of their inherent value, to be confident in knowing they are loved. It’s always astounding to hear people who live good and abundant lives, speak about their loneliness. Why, I would have never believed he/she would feel so alone with so many supportive people in their life? Who would’ve guessed that the whole time we thought they were soaring, they in fact were sinking? Despite what our eyes and assumptions may portray to us as truth, every heart aches with the fears of being unloved and every mind pounds with the doubt of being truly loved. For every panic in failure and desperate strive toward perfection lies the tremblings of the heart and mind. There is not one person whose very existence does not continually cry out for reassurance in their identity as a precious child worthy of love. As babies we vulnerably cried to our parents if only to be taken up by their arms. However, as years pass by with the hard notch of age, our universal cries are muted and ears deafened by the concrete walls of self-preservation.
I wonder… what has defined some of the most life giving interactions and experiences? Was it the quality of spontaneity, or perhaps the rush of beating the odds, or maybe the pride of being “in” while so many remain “out”? I would argue that it is none of these, or really any other superficial and temporary element which merely add a dash of color to a moment. What makes something worth remembering, something worth cherishing, is the mutual experience of feeling valued. A friend of mine once wrote, “Be somebody who makes everyone feel like a somebody.”
Few greater moments exist than those where I’ve felt as though I have been fully seen and wholly understood. Likewise, there are few greater pleasures than to share that with someone else.
I believe the greatest relationships are those that can be described as a space where each person is allowed to just “be”. Each person lives in who God made them to be–quirks and shortcomings included–in the silence, in the laughter, and (but of course) in the awkward and embarrassing moments.
I am curious, what if we lived and interacted with intention to see the whole person? Perhaps loneliness would be transformed into camaraderie and blurred sight into transparent truth. Maybe you…me… we can be the reason why people join in the response of “ngikhona” saying,”‘I am here. [I] have been seen and understood [and] recognized'(Pearson).”