I see you.
And I love you.
That’s what I would tell the world if I had the opportunity to write a short message everyone would see. I would write it across the sky, give it space on every computer screen, slap it on the sides of buses and buildings and those intrusive but engaging advertising spaces on the inside of bathroom stall doors. This message would not really be from me–it’s just something I’d like for everyone to read. Some might read it as if it were written by someone at home and smile at the pleasure of belonging. Some might read it as a reminder of the longing in their souls which is hard to live with but healthy and good. Some might read it as a message from God.
Regardless of how the message were seen and received, I like to think it would change people–even if it changed only they way they treated the next person in their path. Even if it simply changed what they thought about for the next moment.
The power for change wouldn’t really be in the message, though. It would be in its appeal to a deep desire we all share. We all long to be really seen and to be loved at our core. Even those of us who spend our lives constructing elaborate hiding places for ourselves, who are terribly afraid to be known, don’t truly fear being seen. It’s being seen and rejected that we fear. To be seen and known and loved–there is no room for terror in that scenario.
Whether we know it or not, accept it or not, search for it or rest in it, I believe this soul-deep seeing and loving is something we all have. We are seen, beyond what we see in ourselves, and we are loved completely. Even if no one else really knows us, when we’re sure no one else loves us, God loves us more tenderly than we can imagine.
This changes everything. It’s what a powerless, hopeless, and frightened slave woman named Hagar discovered in the desert when she thought she was alone. Abused and on the run, she received a visit from “the angel of the Lord”–no ordinary angel (ordinary for lack of a better term), but probably a physical manifestation of God, perhaps the pre-incarnate Christ himself. He spoke to her and named her. He gave her a vision for her future and the future of her unborn son and a whole mess of descendants: “I will give you more descendants than you can count” (Genesis 16:10). And Hagar named him in return: “You are the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13). A seemingly invisible woman had been seen, known, loved, and given the gift of purpose. How could she be the same?
Seen, known, loved, purposeful–these are gifts that change us and help us endure the worst of circumstances, as they helped Hagar. Knowledge of such acceptance calms us and gives us hope. It gives us a reason to live. The very best reason.
But God is not the only one who holds the power to bless us with seeing and loving. He has shared that power with us, and we play a potent role in each other’s lives. Sadly, this is a role we’re often reluctant to play or to invite into our space. We can’t really, truly understand ourselves without seeing ourselves from someone else’s point of view, but we’re far more likely to invest in controlling the way others see us rather than invite them to show us what they see. In this day and age it’s too easy to manage our images and deceive others as well as ourselves. It’s too easy to for us to choose our prophets and ignore anyone who doesn’t say what we want to hear. It’s too easy to stroke each other’s egos, too much work to challenge the American Idol phenomenon in our overriding culture that tells us it’s heartless and cruel to give someone honest feedback even when they ask for it. We all need someone else’s courageous eye. Who is helping you grow? Who is helping you see the truth about yourself? Who is helping you see what you could be and do?
Knowing the power in this perspective is one of the reasons I feel that in doing the work of a personal and professional coach, I’m doing a little of God’s work. I want to see my clients–not as God sees them, because that’s beyond me–but as another human being can see them. And I want to love them well enough to unearth and hold a vision for them that they may not even know they have. As I’ve started this practice, many people have asked me, “What’s coaching?” This is one answer: It’s seeing and loving.
No matter how hidden you may feel, how mysterious you may seem to yourself, how terrified you are to be open, you are seen and known. And you are loved.
© 2014 Amy Simpson.