Pardon Me for Staring, But…

by Sandi Banks

Have you ever wondered what people watched before Netflix, You Tube, or Direct TV? For me, it was something far more entertaining: People.

How so? Journey back with me to a time when God first taught me a simple but profound truth by watching folks going about their daily lives. It’s the 1960’s and I’m in high school in Las Vegas—a town full of fascinating people. Yet, for me it’s not so much the celebrities who intrigue me, but the “ordinary” people—those who pass by as I sit on my usual bench at Vegas Village.

 I watch. And I wonder.

I watch the young mom juggling bouncy kids and bulging bags. I wonder how she’s managing, if she’s happy in her “mom” role, and if she has a husband at home to help her.

 I watch the teen “hoods” strutting by in black leather jackets and upturned collars, streaming smoke and vulgarities. I wonder how they got here, where they’re going, and who waits for them at home.

I watch an elderly couple, shuffling slowly by, arm in arm. I wonder what they were like at my age, what they did, what they dreamed of doing. I wonder how they met, and what life in the early 1900’s was like for them.

I watch, and I wonder, about the stream of “ordinary” people passing by—where they’re headed, what’s brought them to this town, what makes them laugh, or cry—and occasionally, what’s in their shopping bags.

Many of them fascinate me to the point of wishing they would come sit by me so we could chat, and I could listen to their stories. Thankfully, my people-watching at Vegas Village led to a degree in psychology rather than an arrest for voyeurism.

Today, over 50 years later, I picture that young mom’s kids with their own bouncy grandkids … those black jacket guys with silver hair, or no hair, on Medicare … and that elderly couple together in eternity.

Life passes by quickly, and the people who file past us day in and day out are far from ordinary. Each has a unique story. God can use them to enhance our lives, and teach valuable lessons, if we look beyond what our eyes can see, to what God sees.

“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, the Lord looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)

I wonder who God will put in my path, and yours, today, to plant a new thought or spark a new interest, or add some new dimension to our remaining days.

In this new year, what if we were intentional about looking, and listening—seeing beneath the surface. We just might find extraordinary treasure hidden in the hearts and lives of ordinary people.  

“Everyone has something extraordinary that can change you. A different perspective, a unique experience, a gift. We’re all ordinary people, but we are all extraordinary in our own way.” Skip Pritchard

 This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: As a published author, international traveler, and inspirational storyteller, Sandi delights in pointing people to Christ, by weaving insights and hope from His Word into her stories—her struggles, adventures, and humorous misadventures—through forty countries and forty-plus years of life. She inspires others to mine the Bible’s treasures for themselves, and fall in love with Jesus. (Stop by for a visit, at http://www.sandibanks.com)

Join the conversation: Who has God placed in your path recently that has enhanced your life?

5 thoughts on “Pardon Me for Staring, But…

  1. Loved this blog, Sandi! Chuckled over the line: Thankfully, my people-watching at Vegas Village led to a degree in psychology rather than an arrest for voyeurism.

    As a people-watcher I can identify. Those episodes produced great insights for characters and inspired stories.

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    1. I very much liked reading this article this morning. I have been suffering from feeling lonely since moving to a new state in the middle of our current glopandemic. I do want to share that though I haven’t met any new friends in my new state, an extraordinary person has come into and touched my life thanks to modern media in this case Instagram. Last December I received a message from an unknown source. It was a message unlike most of the ones I am accustomed to getting. It simply said “sending you many blessings and hoping your life is full of Love and light.” I didn’t think to deeply about it and quickly wished this person the same and thanked them for the blessing. Yet weeks went by and then a month and this message kept coming to mind. So after more time than I wish I reached out to this person again. I found out that this man is a priest in Africa who felt divinely inspired to send me the message I mentioned. Since then we have become friends who though separated by a massive amount of world, both speak the same language. The language of love. I have been able to confide in this man who I call brother about my loneliness and recent lose of both my parents. He has prayed for me, and I him. It has made an incredible difference in my life. He told me that we are now brother and sister and he will protect me as a brother as long as he lives. I am in contact through mostly messaging daily as he is always wondering how I am doing. I have been dealing with an overwhelming amount of health issues most my life but recently added stage 2 cervical cancer to the long list. Even though he is a world apart, our Father saw in my heart my grief and loneliness and sent me not only a priest but a brother. I am always amazed by the incredible people in my life who are here not because of any sense of duty real or false. People who are ment to help me through some difficult and dark times. By this I am reminded that it is impossible for me to ever truly be alone because God is always watching and caring deeply about all of us.

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  2. I agree, Sandy. It is fascinating to watch people especially without being noticed. But then who knows that we aren’t being watched as we watch others? And what is the look on our faces? Are we speaking kindly to the person we’re with? I’ve had the experience of walking by a mirror and wondering who the sad woman is I’m looking at? It’s me. Then I smile and turn my attention to God’s blessings and my whole countenance changes. Thank you, Sandy, for prompting my thoughts of joy.

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