Do you ever feel invisible? As if somehow your children don’t even see you running around the house like the energizer bunny? As if your husband is entirely oblivious to the mighty work you are doing on his behalf? Certainly the world outside your home is quite unaware of the miracle of survival inside your four walls every day. Especially in January.
A common mom dilemma. Perhaps that’s why I was so attracted to the title of the book I’d like to recommend this month: Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World That Loves to Be Noticed, by Sara Hagerty. This little gem is not a book on parenting, though it is written from a mom’s perspective. Rather it is a call to return to our Maker, to remember that there is One Who sees us even in the most invisible places. One Who actually invites us into those invisible places so that we can see Him better.
In a culture which continually celebrates our achievements—what we can produce—it is all too easy for us as Christ-followers to think that’s what He values most as well. Whatever our workplace—home or office or classroom or even ministry—we feel the need to have something to show for our work. Great kids. An organized home. A shining witness in the office. Ministry successes. After all, doesn’t God want us to perform well for Him?
Not as much, it turns out, as He wants us to hide in Him. Yes, hide. It seems He wants us to know Him even more than He wants us to work for Him. The invisible places are often where we see Him best. Sara illustrates this great truth as she weaves her own life—transition from ministry to a seemingly much more mundane job, years of feeling unseen in the deep valley of infertility, and now her “invisible” role as mother to six kids, four of them adopted from Ethiopia—into what is really a “God story.”
It’s a book for all of us. Whether God is currently “hiding you” in a chaotic household full of kids, a seemingly mundane work cubicle, or in a chapter of caregiving for one you love . . . this hiddenness is not wasted. Or rather, as Sara asserts, maybe it is just the kind of “wastefulness” God desires. Kind of reminds you, as it did the author, of Mary’s lavish “wasting” of luxurious perfume on Jesus’ feet.
As I read this book, I kept hearing ancient words from the book of Genesis ringing in my ears. “I have now seen the God who sees me,” exclaimed Hagar, the lonely slave girl running away from her abusive mistress (Genesis 16:13b). And when we see the God who sees us, it changes everything. As Hagerty puts it, “Being elbow-deep in soapsuds and breakfast sausage looks and feels different when we know God sees us there.” (p. 57)
So how do we get to this point? How do we train our eyes to see Him seeing us? The last couple of chapters of the book were my favorites. They flesh out the principle of what Sara quotes one of her kids saying to her with pleading: “Up, please.” It begins with desire. When we echo Sara’s prayer: “God, I barely know You and I want to know You more. My life is found in connecting to You, not in following what I think I already know about You.” (p. 205) Prayer “laces our hearts to the unseen” (p. 208) and grounds us in what is truly most important.
I hope you will read this book. We all need reminding on a regular basis of what Sara Hagerty writes that she already knew but needed to hear again:
“. . . the story of God and me is my most significant story. His eyes on me and into my life are the source from which I draw everything else. Whether I am folding laundry or speaking from a platform, my exchanges with God are always about His reach for me and my reach in return, again and again. The rest of life is the overflow.” (p. 212)
The overflow. Indeed. And Amen!