“You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” – Genesis 16v13
I am the type of person that likes to hide away. I cross the street when I recognise someone hoping they won’t recognise me. I like to hide in group settings, sitting at the back being unnoticed. I don’t like people to see me upset and I don’t like confrontation.
But secretly I desire to be seen. I want to be noticed and to be recognised. When someone does draw me into the conversation or recognises me, I enjoy it more than I like to admit.
But what if it’s actually a basic need we all carry? Whether we are stamping our feet to get attention or secretly letting it bubble away inside. Hiding but secretly wishing to be seen.
At the heart of it all, we are all crying: “Please notice me. I matter.”
We all want to be seen because it means we are recognised and we have value. I know we feel that this shouldn’t be the case, that we should have value regardless. Yet it’s hard to shake that feeling of joy and worth when someone catches our eye and smiles at us. When they call our name and walk across the room to be with us. They see us.
As relational, messy human beings we seek that desire to be seen.
Is this all too narcissistic? As with anything it can always be twisted and bent towards ourselves to make us navel gazers. But I actually think to recognise our own need to be seen, to recognise that it is something that makes us human and helps us connect with people; will hopefully propel us to realise that those around us need to be seen too.
Because it’s all too easy to hide, to shrink down pretending not to exist. To cover ourselves with life’s fig leaves.
During church I sometimes see that. In the middle of the crowd, the broken and hurting trying to hide. Tears streaming down their faces or resting their heads in their hands. They make out like they don’t want to be seen, but they do, secretly that’s what they desire.
It’s not the attention we crave but its the sense of value that we desire in being seen.
It reminds me of the woman, who tentatively put out her hand to touch Jesus’s robe in Matthew 9v20-22, hoping to be unseen and healed. But “Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantlythe woman was made well.”
Jesus sees her. She is noticed, she is recognised, she is seen and she matters. For her being an outcast for so long meant she was use to hiding and not having any value to other people. We can almost feel the relief. She wasn’t just healed, she was seen. Jesus looked at her and gave her value.
This messy human was seen.
The Lord calls out “Where are you?” in the garden and he calls out the same thing to us. He wants us to be seen. He wants us to come out of our hiding places.
And with that in mind, knowing we have this desire in ourselves, we can then make sure others around us are seen. The quiet ones in church, the ones that hide, the ones that are on stage, the ones that regularly don’t turn up.
The leader, the server, the tag-along.
The neighbours that keep to themselves, the homeless, the disabled, the outcast, the hurting and the lonely.
Let them know that they matter, that they have value. That they have been seen. Walk across the room to be with them, call their name, smile at them and look into their eyes.
And we may find that in the mess of it all, we are also seen too.
*Photo from Rob Ellis (Flickr: Creative Commons licence)