|Kathy with neighborhood friend, circa 1965|
I was a little girl full of laughter, joy and mischievousness, it seems. And a little girl with a really bad haircut! (Thanks Mama). Anyway, I was a bit overweight as I grew up, I was never the most popular girl or the most accomplished. My grades were average, my talent minimal but I knew my family loved me. There were the usual pains of growing up. There was a bit of unusual family dynamics perhaps but it was just my little life and all I knew to be true.
So why, oh why, would my mind's eye reflect back to this photo in recent days? I'm a very middle-aged woman, years removed from childhood but yet....my mind's eye still sees this little girl as 'me'. An awkward, often silly, not-too-cute, overweight girl...how can this image still be alive inside me?
Years ago, I attended a Walk to Emmaus. The weekend experience is one of soul-searching, laughter and new friends. In one exchange, a new friend told me, "I wish you could see yourself as others see you". And today, I say to me and to you....I wish we could see ourselves as Christ sees us. For I daresay, some of you reading these words have your own pictures in your head. You have words and images trapped inside your mind that define you today.
The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.
Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”
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.”Genesis 16:7-10, 13 (NIV)
How can we apply this story of Hagar to our today lives?
We are Hagar and on the run. Yet, the angel of the Lord seeks us out of our hiding places. The God of the Universe seeks you and me. Did you read that? The God of the Universe seeks us out! He finds us in our places of hiddenness, those places we go when we hurt the most whether they are inside our heads or a physical location like Hagar chose. He comes looking for us. And upon finding us, he asks the most gentle and compelling question of us, 'where have you come from, and where are you going?'
He knows the answers to the questions he asks. So why ask? He knows the pictures we hold in our heads. He knows the lies we tell ourselves. He knows the hopes and dreams inside each of us...yet, He asks. Why? Is He asking so that we realize why we run? Does He ask so we will speak aloud our own hurts and distorted images? Is this the way healing can begin?
For me, He asks so that I realize again that He alone knows my past and my future going. He alone SEES me and has me...and you. And He seeks us in order to redeem, reframe and renew us. He sought out Hagar to comfort her, love her and set her on her path to blessings and mission. And so He does for us. I feel like He's saying....I see you, I see your pain and questions. I know your heart and I know the blessings that await you. Get up, I see you. Get up, and walk with Me where the blessings are too numerous to count. And oh yes, open your eyes and see Me.