You Are Being Watched

5 Feb
Diagram of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

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The title of my blog today is not to scare anyone. Don’t worry. I am not a stalker….but, I am a people  watcher and a keen observer of human nature. I have been for most of my life. Not professionally mind you, but just because I’m drawn to people and their motives behind the behavior.  I am the one that is always asking, “Why would he do that?” or “What is she thinking?”

Yesterday I had some interesting experiences pertaining to being a people watcher. Many of you know that I have been in a 6 week long term subbing gig at the local middle school. The regular teacher is out on maternity leave and I am filling in while she is gone. Now, I could write an entire book on the motives and actions of middle schoolers. Some of the chapters could get fairly dicey so I will just suffice to say that they are a mess. The middle school years are difficult, with a lot of changes going on, none of which the children themselves understand. Thus, I am left with a confused bunch of 11,12 and 13 year olds.

My first class of the day is an unruly bunch of eighth graders. I will admit that they have tried my patience more than once. Yesterday in class we played a Jeopardy-style game using questions from the story we had just read. The game was being used as a study tool, in preparation for an upcoming test. The class was divided into teams. Many of the students laughed at the first group, calling the members of that team “stupid”. “You’ll  never win.” (the cruelty of this age group is a whole different issue—one that I struggle with. Why they feel the need to hurt their fellow classmates is difficult to comprehend. We have had MANY conversations in the classroom about this subject….) Anyway, the kids loved the game and I was pleased that they knew so much of the material.  Even better was the fact that the group that was called “stupid”, were the ones to win. Not only that, they won by a landslide. That was great, I was cheering for them….but, that is not the human nature side of this story. After class two of the boys on that team asked if they could talk with me. I said, “sure”. After everyone left they told me that they really do listen in class and that they did a good job, right? They are not stupid. “When they called us stupid, it made me want to win! I wanted to show them! We kicked their tail, didn’t we Mrs. G.? ” I told them, “You sure did. You should be proud of yourselves. I’m proud of you. I’m very impressed with how much you knew. Great job!” They left the classroom feeling like they could take on the world.

Wow. I felt a lot of things after talking with those students. My heart broke because I don’t like any child to think that they are stupid, or somehow feel like they are less because things don’t come as easily to them as they do to others.On the other hand, I felt happy for them because they had a renewed confidence in their abilities. They had proven themselves. Sure, it was just a game in an eighth grade classroom…but at that moment it might as well have been the Olympics. The human spirit prevailed against the odds.

The next event occurred later that evening, at McDonalds.  Now, you might not think of this particular restaurant as being a human behavior lab, but you would be wrong. This place is a human petri dish for observing human behavior. I could write an entire thesis on how people interact at Mickey D’s. Last evening my husband, oldest son, and I were enjoying (?) dinner at this establishment. We were half way through our burgers and fries, when an elderly lady (whom I had been casually observing eating alone near a window seat) slowly walked over to our table. She was smiling at us as she moved toward us. My initial thought was that she was needing our assistance for something, and we would have gladly obliged to help her. I was wrong. She wanted to tell us some jokes. No we had never seen her before……and she appeared to be fine mentally. She had seen us sitting there and wanted to share with us. She informed us before telling us that all her jokes are funny and not dirty, because she does not tell THOSE type of jokes. (“What did the plow say to the tractor?” Pull me closer, John Deere (dear).  Cute, huh? ) She told us three jokes and gave my son and I a hug, we thanked her for picking us to share with…..and then she was gone. Just like that. I watched her leave, as she struggled to walk out to her car, and then drove away. I wondered where she was headed? Home? Walmart? Does she talk to strangers often? Maybe her only intent was to spread some cheer to others, in the hope of brightening their day. I don’t know.  I wish I would have gotten her name. I could have kicked myself for not finding out more about her. If I ever see her at McDonald’s again, I’m going to tell her that she made me smile and I appreciated it. It wasn’t a huge event, it only was a few minutes, but she made a difference. What causes a person to want to reach out to others? To touch someones life?

Human behavior is an interesting study….whether one does that as a profession or just as a hobby. I am always amazed at the situations I find myself in while observing. Sometimes I am on the outside looking in and at other times I find myself on the inside looking out. A person’s motivation is not always discernible to me.

Even though I do not always know, or for that matter, always understand human  motivations…….I know someone who does. He knows us each intimately. He knows every hair on your head (or lack thereof), He sees each tear that falls—and never forgets. He celebrates our joys. He knows the second we were born as well as the second we will take our last breath. He knows our heart better than we do. In Hebrews, chapter 4, verses 12-13 tell us, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

Our Creator knows us. He has known us from the very beginning. Psalms 139 tells us, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know them full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place …..your eyes saw my unformed body, all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. ………”

Thank you Lord for being the ultimate people watcher. For knowing and understanding your creations. For loving us.

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One Response to “You Are Being Watched”

  1. amy February 10, 2010 at 1:34 pm #

    I love to people watch. I too would be thinking of that woman long after her departure from my presence. What a mystery she was. A wonderful mystery.
    Amy

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