Seeing and Being Seen

EveryBitterThing

“I see you.”  Those words have haunted me ever since I read the chapter with that title in Sara Hagerty’s new book Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet. 

I have followed Sara’s writing for a while through her blog by the same name.   I have also followed her story a bit through my daughter-in-law, who (full disclosure) is a college friend of Sara’s.  Now what a joy to receive her book for Christmas—and to pass along a new book recommendation to all of you.

Yes, all of you.  Especially for anyone dealing with infertility issues.  But also for anyone dealing with the unexpected twists and turns of life, the things we might never have imagined ourselves walking through.  Sara’s story is a story of conversations with God through the hard times.  Through disappointment and disillusionment and lonely pain. 

Yes, lonely pain.  Especially lonely pain.  The deep-down pain that isolates you in a crowd, that makes you feel invisible, like no one else has any idea what you’re going through.

Which brings me to my favorite chapter of the book:  “I see you.”   As Sara struggles through yet another baby shower filled with women’s tales of giving birth, feeling invisible and as if she’ll never “fit in,” God whispers these words:  “I see you.”

I see you.  Powerful words.  Words to live by.  Words that outshout—if we let them—all the voices that tell us know one will ever understand, no one “gets” what we’re going through.  It may not be, for you, infertility.  But perhaps a struggling marriage.  An extremely needy child.  The loneliness of single parenting.  A medical condition no one else knows about—or no one else would understand.  A deep pain from your past.  A private battle you cannot share with others.   Does anyone see?

HE does.  God does.  And He says it over and over in Scripture—both in words and in deeds.   In her chapter Sara focuses on the bleeding woman whose story is told in Luke 8: 40-48.  The woman who came to my mind immediately is Hagar,  running away from her life in fear and misery.  Who shows up but God?   Read her story in Genesis 16 and listen as she proclaims: “You are the God who sees me.”  That’s indeed who He is: the God who sees.  Who sees an obscure “unclean” woman.  A frightened, pregnant servant girl.  Sara Haggerty.  And you.  And me.

And here’s a bonus.  Not only does He see you, but being seen by Him helps us in turn to see Him.  Hagerty puts it this way: “…knowing that God sees me frees me actually to see Him.” (Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet, p. 160).  And Hagar exclaims, “I have now seen the God who sees me.” (Genesis 16: 13)

Certainly, not everyone struggles with infertility.  And not everyone’s story ends like Sara’s.  But we all can learn the truth of the Scripture on which the book title is based: “A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, But to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.”  (Proverbs 27:7, NKJV)

Feeling alone?  God sees.  And cares.  And offers the sweetness of His presence even amidst our “bitter.”