by Kathleen Simley, First Lutheran Communications Director
At noon, every other Wednesday, I hit the “send” button for a blog I host and write for over 1600 subscribers across the country – most of whom I have never met or talked to. Even though my blog is read by many and generates positive comments regularly, I still find myself wondering if it really matters to those who subscribe to it. Sometimes it’s hard to find the words to write and it’s easy to talk myself into believing no one would notice if I didn’t write a blog post on my regularly scheduled Wednesday. But, somehow, I have always managed to push through my writer’s block and consistently show up in the Inboxes of my subscribers every other Wednesday for the past two years.
Over the past month I have spent a significant amount of time away from my office to travel back home and accompany both of my parents to doctor appointments to address serious health issues they are facing. Coming home after days that were emotionally, mentally and physically exhausting and facing a mountain of work in my office was overwhelming. Writing for my blog was impossible.
I decided not to write a blog post on Wednesday, July 21.
In the days that followed, I began to receive email messages from my blog subscribers. Some requested that I re-send my blog post to them thinking theirs got lost in cyberspace. Other subscribers shared how they missed not getting my blog and how much they look forward to receiving it. Several talked about how they have applied some of my blog content in their personal and work lives. Some subscribers even inquired as to if I was doing alright as it was unusual to not hear from me on my regularly scheduled Wednesday.
Maybe you have experienced something similar yourself. Have you had someone reach out to you when you didn’t show up for something they were expecting you for? How did it make you feel when they did? Were you committed to showing back up again?
Have you had the opposite happen to you where no one reached out to you when you didn’t show up? How did it make you feel? Were you committed to showing back up again?
We all need to feel that our presence is important to others. When someone acknowledges our presence, but also our absence, it matters. It matters a lot. It can determine whether we show up again or not.
Saying, “It’s so nice to see you!” to someone in worship, Adult Forum, middle or high school youth group, Bible study or a committee meeting, lets that person know they are seen, valued and welcomed. They are more likely to keep showing up because you made them feel like they matter.
But, it’s just as important to acknowledge who isn’t showing up. Have you noticed the absence of someone at church recently? Maybe it’s someone you were serving, learning or worshiping alongside with before the pandemic. Or perhaps it’s someone who was absent even before the pandemic began.
Now, more than ever before, is the time to let that person know they are missed. Reach out to them through a phone call. Start your conversation by simply saying, “I miss you”. Inquire about how they are doing. Be ready to listen. Show compassion and care. Invite them to come to worship with you or join you in a ministry you are involved with. Whether they decline or accept your invitation, know that by reaching out to them, acknowledging their absence and letting them know they are missed sends the message that they matter and they are important.
For all the times I wondered over the past two years if my blog mattered or if I even mattered, I got my answer in the emails I received when I didn’t show up in my blog on Wednesday, July 21. It struck me that it took only once for me to not show up for so many of my subscribers to check in with me and let me know that I was missed and that what I do is important to them. From here on, I am committed more than ever to show up in my subscribers’ Inbox every other Wednesday. Why? Because I matter.
And, so do you.