How often do we notice what is going on around us in the world and people’s lives? At the end of the year I read a fiction book, The Noticer, by Andy Andrews . My wife heard Andy speak at a Women Of Faith conference in November. Andy Andrews has a gift of being a great story teller. In the start of this book the reader is quickly caught up in the story so it is a book that is hard to put down.
The book’s key figure, Jones, keenly shows up in a person’s life during a time of difficulty. While reading, I debated in my mind whether Jones is a figure of a Guardian Angel or Jesus as he often appears out of nowhere and disappears afterwards. Also the various ethnicities in the book perceive Jones as being of their ethnicity. The importance of the book in my viewpoint is Jones’ improving the moral character of the people he is in contact with.
A driving point of the book is that of our attitude in relating to problems that face us. Jones also emphasizes our attitudes are shaped by our perception. A common example of the power of perception is the glass half full or half empty? Our choices we make are being guided by our attitudes and perceptions. Our perceptions in our daily journey can lead to a negative cast down spirit or to a positive spiraling up outlook on life.
Jones is the “Noticer” in the book as he is a watcher of people and notices when they need help. This is a thread in the book that caught my attention as I move into the New Year. The concept relates well with living life mindfully aware. If I am a Noticer, God can use me more through each day in making me notice people He is bringing into my daily journey for the purpose of being His hands and heart to help them. We may seek to serve God by helping others but then become caught up in unaware living so we do not notice the needs that are actually around us. This is where Jones as the Noticer, can help us understand the importance of being aware of how life is playing out around us.
There was something else I relearned in the initial interaction of Jones with another lead character, who was definitely a glass half empty in his perception of life. The importance of learning from historical figures is a lesson Jones teaches the other lead character when he is young. In his initial contact with Jones, as homework the teen is handed biographies of Winston Churchill, Will Rogers, George Washington Carver. The young man’s perspective of this idea was “boring history books”, but Jones’ perspective was these were opportunities to look at adventures of great people and learn what made them great.
The young man soon found out that reading these books were interesting and not boring. So Jones gave him other biographies: Joan of Arc, Abraham Lincoln, Victor Frankl, Harry Truman, Florence Nightingale, King David, Harriet Tubman, Queen Elizabeth I, John Adams, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mark twain, Joshua Chamberlain, George Washington, Anne Frank, and Christopher Columbus. In reading these books he saw what Jones was getting at; that positive values could be learned from the lives of great people as they were people just like him. If they were great he could be great too.
Stories of people’s lives can be powerful influencers to learn from to better our own life. As I look at the list Jones recommended there are several I have read and appreciated and learned from. The list also gave me ideas of lives I want to read about in the coming year.
Being a Noticer, as seen in this book, means being open to be an active helper for lives in my sphere of life. Jones did not notice just for people-watching sake. He noticed so he could come along someone struggling in life and help change their perspective so to help them grow to be a better person.
Reflection: Try being a Noticer today. See if there is an opportunity to help a family member, friend or even a stranger during your daily journey today.At the end of the day take a few moments to journal thoughts on the experience of helping someone as to how it felt and how did you happened to notice the need to step into the other person’s struggle.