LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!
You were made to be noticed. You were created to be someone who would be valued. This is clear from the opening chapters of our Bible where the God-Who-Notices (Hebrew – El-Roi) came down in the cool of day and walked with Adam. Adam received his Creator’s undivided attention. Perhaps our Creator was modelling to our first forefather what he would one day do for his own children. Because, as Adam and Eve would readily discover, children need attention – and importantly – critically importantly – the attention of their father and mother (who each represent two important aspects of God’s love to their children). But there was a snake in that perfect idyllic garden! That satanic snake hoodwinked our federal heads with false attention and lies! Two despicable tragedies resulted from its deception of Adam and Eve. Firstly, their brokenness fooled them into thinking that the God-Who-Sees (El-roi) did not really notice them. Secondly, their responsibility to represent God’s care to those they would parent was now made defective. This double-faced tragedy would then compound with each successive generation. Three thousand, seven hundred and fifty generations or so later, this insidious evil has compounded into a disaster of global proportions! If you feel unnoticed, unseen, unheard, or unappreciated, there is a solution. If you feel inadequate as a carer, a husband, a wife, a father, a mother, a sister, or a brother, this solution is your answer too.
¶ So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen Him who looks after me.”
ATTENTION: IT’S LOVE!
Our need for attention is an aspect of the love we were created to experience. It is a healthy desire. Giving another our attention is an act of love. But, like all things now wrong with the world, our need for, and ability to give, attention has been corrupted by the Fall. The evil result is: desperate attention-seeking, depression, anger, pouting, sulkiness, tantrums, and moodiness. Ironically, the remedy to this right-attention. In Dr. Jordan Peterson book, 12 Rules For Life, he gives a psychologist’s perspective on why some people are so attention-seeking. He indicates that it probably stems from a somewhat neglected childhood. He tells of how many parents today are more interested in their children’s approval than they are in being their parents. This leads to wrong-attention where parents simply give their children everything they demand rather than giving them right-attention which he calls “incisive attention”.
Children must be shaped and informed, or they cannot thrive. This fact is reflected in their behavior: kids are utterly desperate for attention from both peers and adults because such attention, which renders them effective and sophisticated communal players, is vitally necessary.
Children can be damaged as much or more by a lack of incisive attention as they are by abuse, mental or physical. This is the damage of omission, rather than commission, but it is no less severe and long-lasting. Children are damaged when their “mercifully” inattentive parents fail to make them sharp and observant and awake and leave them, instead, in an unconscious and undifferentiated state. Children are damaged when those charged with their care, afraid of any conflict or upset, no longer dare to correct them, and leave them without guidance.
Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules For Life, 2018:122
ATTENTION: IT’S NOT ALWAYS WHAT YOU THINK YOU WANT OR GIVE
Peterson warns parents from trying to be their children’s friend – “you are much more than a friend” he writes. The attention we all crave is not just to be noticed, but for someone to care for and guide us. The longing for this kind of attention that we all have is ultimately satisfied in an intimate relationship with God. Parents, friends, colleagues, and siblings can only ever be mere shadows of this ultimate Source. Having been a pastor now for nearly 30 years, I have learned to detect those who have looked to me to satisfy their longing for attention. These people are generally very short-fused, and are constantly finding that people let them down – especially those closest to them. In every instance, this misplaced longing has stemmed from a disconnect with one or both parents – especially their father. Sadly for them, they quickly realise that I am not their solution, but I know the One who is. Being attention-satisfied in God will most often require them to extend forgiveness to their parent or parents for their neglect. I witnessed the miracle of transformation in people who have taken this step. They let go of the anger, frustration and disappointment with their parent/s and undergo a beautiful transformation from irritable-with-everyone to at-peace-with-themselves-and-everyone else. It’s a gloriously beautiful thing to witness. Ironically for these people, their grumpiness and inability to relate meaningfully with others is discarded for a new persona of forgiving-forgiven-free-and-now-happy-soul which actually makes them attractive to others. And attractive people get healthy attention from their peers.
¶ The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
and His ears toward their cry.
What happens when a young person does not receive the appropriate right-attention of the kind that God has ordained for them? The result can be an attention vacuum which can lead to such a young person becoming vulnerable to the slightest and ill-intentioned attention from those with less than noble motives. To a lesser extent, because we are created to be given attention, then to give attention, a child will often resort to whatever works in their pursuit of attention. This is where parents in particular must instruct their children about what should be appropriately rewarded with attention, and what kind of poor behaviour should be corrected.
¶ Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
Are you hurting and broken within?
Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin?
Jesus is calling
Have you come to the end of yourself
Do you thirst for a drink from the well?
Jesus is calling
O come to the altar
The Father’s arms are open wide
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus Christ
Leave behind your regrets and mistakes
Come today there’s no reason to wait
Jesus is calling
One of my major ministries as a pastor is to help people to come to wholeness. Wholeness begins with a recognition of brokenness. This is an acknowledgement that things are not working, life is frustrating, disappointment happens too often, and crankiness happens too easily. Psalm 34 is beautiful prayer of someone moving from brokenness to wholeness. It describes the role of surrendering to God in worship, looking to Him as the Source of our delight and satisfaction and living under His care. It describes the attention we were all made for. It describes the awakened soul who realises that God is their Audience. It describes the soul who not only looks to God, they seek God. It gives the newly whole person the reassurance that while it may appear that no-one notices, sees, or listens – God does! He is the solution to the attention deficit disorder that so many are blighted with. It is my prayer that together, as a church, we can help more broken people come to wholeness by discovering the richness, beauty, and magnificence of The Christ. I hope you will join me in that prayer.
When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
¶ Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
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