There are very few feelings in life that leave us more challenged, hurt, and insecure, than the feeling we get from being ignored. Part of this may stem from the fact that we need to feel we have what to contribute, to give back to society and the world. Indeed our ability to be in touch with what we have to give is the essence of connecting with our purpose in this world. So when someone completely ignores us, perhaps we wonder whether we really have as much to offer as we think we do.
One would think that the more important someone is, and the more special they are to us, the less chance there is that we would ever ignore them. Everyone has that special list of a select few friends and family members who’s call they take no matter how busy they are. And yet, so often, it is the people we should care about the most that we often tend to ignore. And of course, the closer someone is, the more painful it must be when we ignore them.
The greatest lessons, of course, are learned from the most painful of mistakes.
I recall once visiting our daughter’s nursery class, for a Shabbat party. Our daughter, aged four at the time, was the Shabbat queen that Friday, so she got to wear the crown, light the candles for all the children, and I wanted to surprise her by showing up with a guitar. There are certain moments that are beyond description, so it is impossible to accurately describe the look on my daughter’s face when I showed up and offered to sing and tell stories; her beaming face still warms my heart years later. Assuming, therefore, that she was already in heaven, and on top of the world, and not wanting to appear to play favorites, I was calling on all the other children to answer the questions that emanated from the story. Only the teacher’s gesture alerted me to the tears starting to stream down my daughter’s face because I wasn’t asking her a question.
It didn’t matter that the whole reason I was there to begin with was because of her; one moment ‘s perception that I was ignoring her; that I wasn’t seeing her, was more painful than the joy of the whole morning put together.
Eli Wiesel once said:
“ A Jew can affirm G-d, or he can deny Him, but he cannot ignore Him.”