“i see you. i hear you. i’m with you.”

Five and a half weeks ago I was supposed to be in the Pacific Northwest for two Practicing events in Portland and Washington. I was so excited because not only would I get to process some of the content in Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World with people in real life workshop-style (my favorite thing) but I’d also get to hang out with some of my dearest friends in both cities and spend the weekend with two of my adult sons who live in Seattle. They were even going to get to come to the Seattle night, which is a mama’s dream. But alas, none of that came to pass as the realities of COVID-19 began to sweep in and the dominoes kept falling. 

Even though that was only 5 ½ weeks ago, it actually feels like 5 months because we’re living in such a surreal time right now, trying to find our way through this unprecedented time in our history. Instead of gathering in real life, we did a virtual event on ZOOM (when ZOOM was still just a novelty, remember that?). I decided to just riff off the 10 practices in the book–healing, listening, loving, including, equalizing, advocating, mourning, failing, resting, and celebrating—related to the pandemic for that particular night which was so early on in all of this. More is coming in a next post about the practice of pandemic-ing, but today I wanted to focus on one little thing I said that night  that I’ve been thinking about since then (and isn’t in the book with these exact words).

I shared how the best thing we can offer to each other in this world are these simple words “I see you. I hear you. I’m with you.” 

I see you. I hear you. I’m with you. 

We don’t need advice giving, scripturizing, “have you tried…?”, ” “why don’t you just…?”, “I have a friend who….” or the I-can-top-that-with-my-pain-or-struggle or pretty much any of the things that so readily roll off of so many people’s lips when we share the hard things we are living out.

“I see you. I hear you. I’m with you.”

These words—and the spirit behind them—are so desperately needed not only in the middle of this pandemic but in all-things-human. 

Today marks 6 months since our youngest son died. 6 months. ½ a year.  Sometimes it feels like yesterday, and other days it feels like a lifetime ago. The pandemic has really messed with our heads and our hearts because our life since October 28th 2019 was already so surreal and we’ve been feeling like we’re living in an alternate reality. This still-so-shocking added layer of the entire world turned upside down—literally—by this pandemic has made our time warp even warpier. 

Grieving and living at the same time is so.freaking.hard. Period.

And the thing that continues to help us the most are these three simple phrases from people in our lives, both near and far: “I see you. I hear you. I’m with you.”

A few days ago, I received an envelope addressed to me in care of The Refuge from a name I didn’t recognize. Inside was a beautiful hand-written note from someone who had attended a Faith Shift event 5 years ago (coincidentally in Seattle). We weren’t connected on Facebook or anything else beyond that night, but she had recently read about Jared and felt compelled to write to tell me this—“I just wanted to let you know that I see you and am holding you in my heart while you navigate this impossible task.”

It makes me cry again just seeing these simple words again. 

What an incredible and unexpected gift that was dropped into my hands and then into my heart from out of the blue. 

“I see you. I hear you. I’m with you.”

For 6 months we’ve been sustained that way, through so many amazing people who know how to just stick with that because it’s enough. 

It’s plenty.

It’s everything.

“I see you. I hear you. I’m with you.”

Right now, people are suffering in so many ways everywhere we turn. Death, sickness, and fear is so magnified. People are losing jobs, security, life-as-we-knew it. The loneliness and disconnection for those who are most vulnerable right now is crushing.  The realities of an unjust system that is bent against people who need help the most is brutalizing. The news cycle taking everyone for a ride night after night is traumatizing. 

It’s a lot of grief.

It’s a lot of pain.

It’s a lot of how-can-this-be-real-and-what-is-life-going-to-look-like-now.

Trust me, I know that “I see you. I hear you. I’m with you” doesn’t pay bills, it doesn’t make jobs appear, it doesn’t take away the fear, it doesn’t do all kinds of things people also need right now, but I do know this: It’s a simple practice that’s sorely missing in the frenzy, the frantic, the fix-it-and just-be-more-faithful culture we live in. 

I see you. I hear you. I’m with you. 

It’s enough.

And sometimes, it’s everything. 

It’s what has helped us survive the worst 6 months of our lives.

I see you. I hear you. I’m with you.

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

One Comment

  • I like this. And as one not great at finding simple words to fit the need, I’ll mirror to you, simply, that indeed I see you, hear you, and am with you!


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