I met Nikki in a gas station parking lot. She couldn’t have been old enough to vote. She looked tired. Sad. Defeated. She told me she was hungry and asked if I might have any money I could share.

You know me, I pulled out a $5. But before I gave it to her, I stuck my hand out to shake hers, to look her in the eye, and to introduce myself. My guess is that she had encountered other people tonight who had looked away or looked at the ground or pretended not to see her.

It matters, I think, to feel seen. To believe that someone sees you and appreciates that you exist and maybe even tries to understand a bit about the road you are walking.

Then I told Nikki that I would pray for her, and asked if she would pray for me. “Of course,” she quickly said. She seemed surprised, and honored, that she had something to give as well.

We’re all made in God’s image, here for a purpose, and we all have something important to offer the world. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that. If you get a chance, try and show that to people who need the reminder.

And do me a favor and say a prayer for Nikki, too. Just like I needed her prayers more than the $5, I bet she does too.

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