Me and Joe and the President

Do you ever feel like you’ve accidentally put on Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak?

A few months ago a couple of people made an appointment with me.  I didn’t know what their agenda was.  When we met all they did was ask me questions about a painful experience.  And then they listened.  And asked more questions.  And listened some more.  

They asked, “and then what happened?” and “how did you feel?” and “oh no!” and “what can we do?” like it really made a difference to them.

And here’s the thing.  Yes, what was asked and answered was important, but the most transformative thing for our relationship was that when I walked away I didn’t feel invisible anymore.  It felt like I mattered.   What I thought, what I felt, the pain I had experienced made a difference to them.  Have you had an experience like this?

A few years ago my husband and I had the opportunity to spend some time with former President Clinton in a couple different contexts (no he would not remember my name!).  Regardless of what you think about his politics or his morals, here’s a man who makes people feel like they matter.

We were wrapping up an interview with him when he saw an African American guy with a saxophone that was about 189 years old in a back hallway.  Clinton got so excited asking this guy about the brand of sax he played, and the type he used to play, and the music he liked.  He laughed and they swapped sax stories and he asked questions and really listened.  Clinton was so present it was hard for his handlers to tear him away.  One of the most powerful men in the world.  And he was saying to this man, “I may be the president of the United States, but you matter too.”

This is Joe.

He’s a guy with Down’s Syndrome who has a great smile and a can-do spirit.  He’s the guy who sweeps the stairs at exactly the same time every morning at my health club.  When I first asked his name he looked scared, like he had done something wrong.  When I thank him each day for his great work he always looks a little surprised.  Today I took another step and asked him, “Joe, how long have you worked here?  Do you like your job?”

I’ve noticed Joe.  I’ve tried to let him know he matters.  But how many others do I miss during the day who are longing to be noticed?  Feeling like they’re accidentally wearing and invisibility cloak?

What if Jesus hadn’t looked up to see Zaccheus?  What if He hadn’t taken time to talk to the woman who touched the hem of His robe?

When is a time when someone made you feel like you mattered?  Who are the people you tend to overlook?  Who would feel affirmed if you asked a question and listened?

4 thoughts on “Me and Joe and the President

  1. Love this Laura. Thanks for your heart that moves to bless other people!
    I have found it a great spiritual exercise to try to bless and pray for people when I find myself unintentionally ‘people watching’ – you know, as you drive or wak in the mall or at the state fair or whatever. Often I will either just ignore folks or look at strangers wirh more of a critical eye ~ like I am the judge and jury on what they are wearing or whatever… (“Why is she wearing THAT?!” or “Wow, look at that beer belly!” etc) Not so good. So I tried praying for them asking God to bless them and began to see folks in a whole new light. As HIS precious children with lives that are full of people and experiences. I have no idea what they have been through or are going through now but God does, and God cares deeply. I don’t always remember to do this – but when I do it is really heart transforming.


  2. This is something I love to do, but it falls by the wayside when life gets busy. I’m off to email some notes of thanks right now! Thanks for the challenge and reminder! 🙂


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