Photo Credit: Davidson Luna, Unpslash Media

He Doesn’t Know I Am Watching

I saw him again this week.

I hadn’t seen him for a few months and suddenly there he was.

He didn’t see me. He doesn’t even know me, and yet he has made an impact on me.

But, before him… before seeing this gentleman… there was a wedding venue.

She arrives glowing, shoulder-length dark hair swept up in a hair clip. Dressed in high-waist jeans and a sleeveless black tank top, she carries a spiral-bound notebook and her arms are toned and strong. Morgan strides up to our small gathering, awaiting her in black metal patio chairs and a wrought iron table top. We’re sitting in warm June sunshine on the sidewalk terrace of the vineyard reception hall in a small Midwestern town.

We arise and greet her — me the Mother-of-the Bride, as well as pretty blonde Renee, Morgan’s future mother-in-law, and Renee’s husband Jason, and good friends Mike and Anja. Anja smiles and slips short bobbed blonde hair behind her ear. Mark is home with car troubles, but the plan is for me to call him, updating him on the venue’s details, as he gets to picture with us what it will look like for our daughter to get married in four quick weeks.

Morgan beams and heads in to speak with the venue’s wedding coordinator.

She is twenty-four and getting married. I’m so excited for her.

Her fiance Joey arrives just then, having rushed away from work to get here for this early evening meeting. Blond hair swept across his forehead and large wide smile are trademarks of my handsome new son-in-law. He loves Jesus and is intentional in his words and actions. He is kind and respectful, playful and serious — a perfect pairing for my daughter, and my husband and I have already adopted him into our hearts.

The evening passes quickly. Morgan and I, both Enneagram Threes, make our way through our lists of questions and clarifications. She checks off boxes in her notebook and I scribble in answers in mine. Renee and Jason, Joey, Mike and Anja all raise wise thoughts and questions too, and we are so thankful for them being there with us.

Later, at an off-site vineyard where the marriage ceremony will be, we stand them up at the center of the cement stage, and the vineyard drops off gorgeously behind them. Blue sky shines behind wooden support beams and golden 7:30 pm summer twilight bathes everything in glimmer. Morgan and Joey hold hands, and we arrange temporary propped people to estimate where the wedding party will stand, and I see it.

This stance in golden sunlight is symbolic — not of a fleeting idyllic wedding day which we’ll all savor and that will be here before we know it– but of the continued actions of showing up, of holding hands, of being there day after day. Showing up. Being consistent. Choosing to step in and to stand.

And it reminds me of the stranger, the “spied-on” gentleman that I know and yet don’t know.


Because an hour away from Morgan and Joey’s idyllic ceremony site, back in my quiet small suburb, I see him. His walk is purposeful. He leans forward and pumps his arms, and his gait is smooth and fast, even though it looks as if some joints are sore.

I see him each summer, each fall, and some wintery days, although it has been a few months since our paths have crossed until now.

This older gentlemen with the leaned over gait impresses me. I don’t know his name, but his consistent exercise inspires me.

“He’s wearing dress pants and a button down shirt today,” I noticed, a bit surprised, and yet I love that some older generations manage to work and exercise while still wearing khaki pants and button down shirts. He reminds me of my dad in that way.

I smile and let my eyes follow him as he strides past going south, and my car hurtles away to the north of him.

“Goals,” I murmur, using a slang term from my teen and twenty-some-year old kids. It means that this behavior I see has sprung up in me the desire to emulate it, to copy it, and it’s true.

This older gentleman inspires me. I want to be like him. This older man who strides into his world, leaning in, consistent, faithful, circling a large suburban block several miles long, exercising in all kinds of weather, only the clothing changing, never him.

I have never talked to him, but I’d like to.

I need to wrangle a time when our paths cross again perfectly and figure out how to park somewhere and then chase him down to tell him how proud I am of him, and how he inspires me.


For Morgan and Joey, and for me today, I want to show up. I want to step in and stand there. To be consistent, not only with exercise, but with broader implications. To step in, reach out, and be there consistently.

I have been mulling that over this week: how this stranger inspires me, and how I can copy him more.

And the beautiful amazing thing in all this?

He has no idea that I see him.

He has no idea that I am inspired by him.

He has no idea that I am telling you about him.

All he did was step out of his house today and be his faithful self, and it’s beautiful and he has no idea we’re watching.

He inspires others just by being him.

And… I know YOU do too. 

I wonder who is watching you and me?


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Jennifer speaks often at MOPS/MomsNext groups, at conferences, churches, retreats, camps, home school co-ops and more. She loves getting to know people and making new friends.

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  1. Mihaela Echols on June 13, 2023 at 11:07 pm

    Is that interesting how our consistent Acquaintances like this man and the same grocery worker, the same mail man some how become familiar strangers?!
    It makes me dig deeper thinking how we impact people as we go on about our lives and never know how we’re impacting others and those who we are close with.

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