Sunday, June 17, 2012

El Roi: God Who Sees

Maybe most of my life I've been lonely.

This isn't to say that I didn't have a family and so many friends along the way that loved me. I do. But there have been those times, I hope you know what I mean, when all the family and friends in the world wouldn't be enough to stop the lonely that settles in your legs heavy, or makes your breathing fast and shallow, or tightens up your shoulders and jaw and chest.

I have a new job. At this job, I get to live eight hour sections of life with women who struggle with eating disorders. One of their projects, during their stay at this place, is to draw an image of their body as they see it. They can use images, words, magazine clippings...anything they want. Among the words that I see again and again, I see this word, written right over the heart: "lonely."

"Me too," I want to tell them. 

I sit across from her at the table, a new employee, just a trainee really, as this beautiful woman squeezes her eyes shut, telling us how much it hurts. It's not the first thing she's said today. She asked us to pass the water three times at the table before anyone heard. She tried to see something someone was showing the group. They didn't notice right away. She gave up. 

"Me too," I want to tell her. I know that lonely.

I sat there, silent, as my coworker skillfully, lovingly, beautifully spoke truth to her. And I, deep in my thoughts, tried to find the right time and way to tell her that we have a God who sees. 

It was Hagar in the desert. Hagar fleeing when the angel of the Lord finds her and speaks to her. I looked it up when I got home, Genesis 16. "She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me." El Roi in the Hebrew: God Who Sees.

"He sees!" I wanted to tell her, "sees you at the table asking for water, sees you sitting by yourself, sees your pain, your deep loneliness, the lie that you believe that no one sees you."

"You too," God tells me, "I see you." 

One thing I never noticed about El Roi and Hagar. She names God this, and then says, "I have now seen the One who sees me." Ah, yes, God. This is the truth that would change us. Not that God suddenly sees us, but that we become aware of His eternal gaze. That somehow, we would train our darting eyes to find His steady ones. 

It's my prayer for us, her and I, you and me, the lonely ones:  Give us eyes to see Your seeing. And when we find Your eyes, make us brave enough to hold the gaze long enough to notice that what we see in those eyes set on us is love