It happens to all of us. We get star struck. We see someone and we feel like we are approaching The Oracle in The NeverEnding Story. Suddenly, we are little Atreyu. We know that our truth will be seen and if we try to cover it with bravado or airs, it will be known and we will be annihilated by our own hand.
I used to feel that way around Generals and Colonels. They used to make me feel like I was seen through and through and surely they knew when I was being brave instead of humbly authentic me. And of course, there was that voice in me that said, “you have no credentials, you have no right, no worth to approach in the first place.”
And then I spent time around them. And something shifted. Suddenly I realized, I am they, they are me. They went through the same thing. They are not different. There is not really a ceiling between us. They just happen to have rank. That is a visible worldly recognition of their voice, but their voice is not more valuable, just more “noticed.”
Today, when I chatted with my friend Francisco, we spoke of those who leave us like Atreyu. And for me, I realized it is the ones whose voice is not heard. The ones who are so hurt, so broken, so betrayed that they DO know you in an instant. They are the Oracle who holds wisdom and power. They are who KNOW the truth of humanity’s soul and they know ME in an instant. They see straight through the veneer in the blink of an eye.
So when I minister to an alcoholic about addiction, to a woman about abuse, a trans youth about fear and value, or an immigrant about welcome, they know these things. They know them far more than I ever will. And they know if I am being honest and authentic with them. They know if I am there because I want a feel good moment to pat myself on the back with or are really there about their voice, their life, their very soul.
That was when it struck me. I had told Francisco that I am not awestruck by fame or fortune. What leaves me as Atreyu are the ones who are ignored and KNOW when we are truly seeing them. They are who leave me remembering that this life and my call as a Christian, let alone a pastor, is not about me, but about those who struggle and need someone to be real with them. To just BE with them. And when I do that, something beautiful happens to me as well. I am transformed, because I must remain my most authentic self with them- and slowly, that authentic self seeps into my daily life- revealing who God made me to be.
I am not lifted up or humbled by those who I can name drop about or who hold power in this world. I am lifted up and seen by those who know souls. Those who know hearts. They are the wisdom that lets us see our battle and journey is in us, not with them. The are the humble revelation of God in our midst. No wonder I am afraid. In them I might just see the face of God.