My wife, Monica, and I had lunch with an old friend a few days ago. He talked about spending every Friday with his 4 year old (?) granddaughter. Most of the time, he said, he just spends the day looking at her. Not watching her, exactly, but actually looking at her, face to face. They share something in the act of seeing one another, something very powerful. There’s a bond that gets formed in that time that is so strong that when grandpa falls asleep on the couch, he often wakes up to find his granddaughter just waiting for him, watching him.
From a psychological perspective, this is an incredibly powerful action, especially for a small child. They call it mirroring, a way of relationally proving that they exist, are there in a way. What they feel goes out into the world and comes back in the expressions and actions of someone else. What happens to them inside is real and who they are outside is real. And, more than that, it is good. It is accepted and loved. We are accepted and loved. We crave this without even realizing it as children, and should we fail to receive it, we continue to long for it afterward.
But my wife said so simply at the end of his story, “Isn’t that a wonderful picture of God?” And our friend teared up. “I didn’t grow up that way. But I’m learning.” And we sat in the emotion for a while, knowing that God was doing something.
He loves his granddaughter so much, and volumes of that love is communicated simply by seeing her. And so God sees us. He doesn’t do it to judge or even protect us, though those things may happen in appropriate times. He looks at us because He loves us. He looks, if we are willing, into our eyes and sees who we really are with a love so fathomless we will spend eternity failing to completely grasp it.
He sees us all the time. There’s no question of that. But there is a difference between someone looking at you and letting yourself be seen. There’s an immense vulnerability there. We tend to hide and cover ourselves, and being seen is a risk, but this is, in part, what God longs for in relationship with us. He sees us, and He waits for us to turn and look back and be seen. And in being seen, be loved.
Like our friend and his granddaughter, God sees us. And like our friend, we may grow to learn how much love the Father offers in seeing us and waiting for us to turn and be seen.