“At Acton, we make sure that every child is known and seen.” – Laura Sandefer
Laura made this statement to those of us in her group at the New Owners’ orientation while rapidly walking across their campus in downtown Austin. Laura wasn’t trying to be profound. She was trying to get her group of new Acton owners to her elementary studio’s launch on time. Yet, to me, the kid who was known (mainly due to a rumor mill) and not “seen”…I immediately fought back tears. I took a deep breath and a slow silent exhale before entering the elementary studio bustling about with high energy and happy heroes.
“Keep it together, Suzy. Don’t cry.”
Of all the wisdom that Laura so generously passed down to her future owners, that one line, that one off the cuff, yet profoundly true statement, is the one my heart cherished. I don’t think I will ever forget that moment, and I know that I will never want to forget it. In that moment, I decided to make sure that every hero who is entrusted into my care will be known and seen. Every. Single. Hero. Matters.
Yet, I want this banner of “Known and Seen” to burst forth beyond the walls of my Acton Academy in Salado, TX. I want others inspired to see people, to really see them. I want to challenge all of my heroes, parents, families, and followers to not only read or hear a person’s story, but to wonder what it must have felt like to live that story. I want the heroes on my campus to have the unique ability to not only communicate with people but to connect with them. We quickly forget a large percentage of what is communicated to us, but it takes a lot of time for a connection to fade…if it ever fades at all.
I honestly believe that when we care enough to see people, we can become a more productive and powerful force. Our lives will emerge to deeper levels of trust and intimacy, we experience a deepened level of confidence within ourselves, and we realize that we don’t have to be offended by another person’s lack of maturity or sensitivity toward us. For example, we realize that those who continuously blame others are having a real struggle with breaking a victim-hood mentality. Thus, when they blame us, we don’t take it personally. We realize that they need patience and grace as they work on breaking free from the bondage of victim hood. We realize that complaining is just a verbal form of admitting defeat and the one complaining needs encouragement that he/she can overcome whatever obstacle is in their way and can still make progress toward their goals.
Everyone has a story and our stories matter. Even when we try to silence our past and swear to never let anyone know about certain areas in this Big Story that we call Life, our chapters still speak through our attitudes, our actions, our decisions, and other outward behaviors. When we let people see us and we care enough to see others, we realize that nobody is perfect and nobody has to be. We realize that what makes us beautiful are our imperfections. And, we realize that we are able to move through life freely. It’s not a matter of “not caring what others think” but of caring about others so much that we see why they think what they think. Their why is what frees us from the weight of offense. The why is what is either freeing to them or holding them in bondage.
Viktor Frankl. a Jewish leader who survived a Nazi concentration camp, stated it best:
“Mental bars imagined are no less solid steel.”
People can live in bondage to their thoughts. I wonder how many adults are really allowing others to see them. I wonder how many parents are really allowing their children to see them. I wonder how many children are unseen and are in the process of becoming enslaved to their thoughts….don’t believe me? Go hang out with some teenagers. If I may be so bold to state, go even further and hang out with their parents.
Let’s stand together and raise the banner of “Known and Seen” to our families and children and even to those in our spheres of influence. Let’s join thousands of others around the world in making this world a better place by empowering our youth, and ourselves, to live courageously. Let’s be Known and let’s be Seen.