The One who sees me

The One who sees me

“While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him.”  — Luke 15:20

Have you ever walked into a room and felt invisible? Or have you ever invested in a relationship only to be slowly ignored? Have you ever felt that you were unseen or unknown?

Each of us processes these types of relational limitations in different ways. Some of us try to make our presence louder until we “force” others to pay attention. Some of us become like quiet, well-behaved chameleons, because being noticed is actually painful when the deep and authentic connection we actually long for seems impossible. And it doesn’t take a psychology degree to know that many children (and adults) who act out are knowingly or unknowingly starving for the healthy attention they’ve never received.

  • Pause to pray: have you ever found yourself in one of these scenarios? Can you describe that experience to Jesus now? What does He have to say to you?

Growing up I had a pen pal who lived in a different state and though I only remember visiting her twice in person, she was actually one of my closer childhood friends. At the height of our correspondence we were writing letters back and forth at least once a week. I eventually collected an entire box of her hand-written notes, and I pretty much assumed that we’d be friends forever — until adolescence hit. I started noticing those letters arriving less and less often. The joy of checking my mailbox was gradually fading, because at some point the envelopes simply stopped coming. I tried to hold out for a while, continuing to take initiative, continuing to write to her, but eventually had to resign myself to the fact that she simply had friends back home who had become more important than me.

Of course, human relationships can come and go, and the ones that truly do last a lifetime tend to be rare. But that experience of being seemingly forgotten by a friend has actually shown me something important about the human heart: that no matter what our defense mechanisms might say to the contrary, we long to be seen, we long to be known, we long to be sought out. Not for what we can produce or give or do. We long to be delighted in simply because we exist.

The Gospel shatters our delusion and disappointment with the Good News that we have a God who is searching for us, searching so hard He could not bear to stand by idle while we were being lost. So, He sent the most unexpected search and rescue party that the world has ever known: He sent His very self, the Son of God made man, a fragile Babe crying from a manger in a tiny village in Palestine, nursing at the breast of a teenage girl who found herself chosen to be the Mother of God.

Our God is a God of initiative, relentless in His pursuit of relationship with us. Simply meditating on the mystery of the Incarnation could be enough spiritual food to chew on for an entire lifetime.

  • Pause to pray: what does Jesus’ coming in the flesh mean to me? Have I ever really pondered what this reality says about His desire to seek me?

A subtle temptation as week approach the topic of prayer could be to constantly ask ourselves (or our pastor or our mentor or our husband): what do I need to do to improve my relationship with God? How can I pray better? What is the latest podcast on this? These are not bad questions by any means, but if our focus with prayer remains exclusively “What do I need to do?” then at the end of the day we are looking back at ourselves in a mirror and our faith can quickly become a self-help project.

Instead I am convinced that there is essentially one question we must never tire of asking: “Lord, how am I receiving your love today?” I was once told by a spiritual director: “Be generous in receiving.” Sounds a little weird, right? Kind of an oxymoron, a contradiction. Aren’t we supposed to be generous in giving? Yes. But, naturally, I should have realized sooner that there’s this whole both/and thing that the Catholic Church is famous for. So yes, we’re called to be generous in giving but even before that, God invites us to be generous in receiving: in receiving His gaze, His words, His heart, His friendship, His love, in receiving Him. Period.

  • Pause to pray: How has God shown His love to me specifically since I woke up this morning?

There will always be better tips and more advice on how to have a better prayer life and we can and should be open to exploring that. But at the end of the day if we approach prayer as if it’s a homework assignment, we will likely end up unsatisfied.

God has letters waiting for you and for me every day of our lives. He’s been writing these letters since eternity. They’re written in our language, and always mailed to the correct address even though we keep moving around. No matter whether or not we get out of bed to check for those letters, they will still be waiting in the mailbox. He never grows tired of writing to remind us of how much He loves us and pointing out the parts of us we thought no one knew about. All we have to do is get up and open that mailbox to receive what’s inside. To receive Who is inside. Some mailboxes have keys because the contents are unique and valuable. Imagine the worst junk mail you’ve ever received; now think of the exact opposite. That’s what you are about to receive. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that every Catholic Church has a little box with a key. It’s as if there’s something Precious in there. Like the best letter of your life. Except, He’s a Person who sees you before you even make it to the mailbox.

“While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him.”  — Luke 15:20

Suggested concrete resolution: “Be generous in receiving”

  • If you currently pray very little or never, begin this month by setting aside 5 minutes of silence each day to receive a daily “letter” from God. Let Him see and know you as you listen to His Word through this suggested list of Scripture verses.
  • If you do have a habit of daily prayer, take a next step in receptivity: this month set aside 5 minutes of silence every day to remain with God and ponder the question: “Lord, how have You loved me in the past 24 hours?”

October’s reflection is written by Sr. Ruth Kuefler, AVI