He pointed to the large vacant theater, ideal for a reading, concert or a church service. Rows of lined seats faced a house-of-a-stage; ceilings reached high yet still offered an intimate vibe. You could almost feel the pre-gathering energy in the space.
There’s a band that did a show here. They marketed and sold tickets and the night of the concert they came out on stage and saw a handful of people in the audience, surrounded by a vast clump of empty seats. Most of us would notice what? Bryan and I responded in unison: The empty seats.
Right, he agreed. We see empty seats instead of the few who are there. But this band, he continued, they had the gift of shrinking the room. They unplugged their equipment and invited the handful of folks to come down and join them on stage and played an acoustic set like you wouldn’t believe. Anyone can come out and entertain. But few can adapt to your audience.
I’ve thought of his story for weeks now. His words stay with me when I enter a huge gym and speak my heart to young mamas. I focus on the faces. On seeing the woman who’s deaf interpreter sits at her elbow, signing into her arm. The room shrinks and her face is all I see.
It’s about the one. The individual.
In a world filled with noise and large platforms and crowds, relationship must be about the one.
I sit on the front yard, grass littered with bikes and upside down helmets and water cups knocked over. Kids shriek and play and I imagine future adults looking back on these moments and remembering how fun it was playing with the neighbor kids.
I sit in my office. Sans makeup. Lights off. Still in pajamas. I close my eyes and listen to the person on the other end of the phone and I picture them. I focus completely on our conversation and nothing else matters.
And other times I look at my heart and identify selfishness. I notice empty seats. I spot a lack. I criticize myself- or worse- my kids for what they aren’t doing well, instead of the millions of ways they show up and reflect life for simply breathing.
There’s beauty in shrinking a room. In focusing on one. In adjusting to the people who come into our days and our paths and our minds, and giving them every ounce of attention and focus and love. There’s value in seeing the woman in the back, rocking her crying babe and catching her gaze and smiling. There’s connection in hugging the lady who can’t hear me but can follow lips and we share tears and our hugs cross a mountain of barriers. There’s love in talking through the marital tension or praying with a friend or getting eye level with a child.
There’s utter beauty in holding today open and choosing to celebrate the figurative occupied seats instead of the empty ones. Then inviting that individual down onto the stage, into our lives, into our messes and our homes and our stories, and it starts with saying, “I see you. You alone. You are enough.”
Shrinking the room.
Seeing those present.
Focusing on the one.
There’s beauty to be had in living grateful for those who teach us to create and play and love for the sheer joy of participating, not entertaining.
How, my friends, how can we shrink the room today? How can we focus our attention on one?
Discipleship starts here.
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I’m beyond thankful for every article, heart connection and podcast experience in this journey. Here are a few ways the message of Choosing REAL is reaching others. So. Dang. Humbled.
FOX NEWS Opinion: How the death of my earthly father helped me find my Heavenly Father
Proverbs 31 Devotion: Celebrating When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned
Conversation Cafe Podcast with Bekah Shaffer: https://soundcloud.com/spill-the-beans-404985658/conversation-cafe-episode-02-bekah-jane-pogue
*Photo: Haley Womack