Seen. Heard. Known.

I’ve been lying low for 27 days (I’d say I’ve been in isolation that long except that 20 days ago I did get to hug a rebel friend…so I technically haven’t been totally isolated for the full 27…but mostly) and I have all the thoughts, so I’m back on my blog to process and share.

During these lonely days, I’m thinking a lot about relational losses and the ways we long for human connection and relationships. I miss my people. Part of me just misses people in general, but mostly I miss my people…the ones that when I’m with them, I feel most like me…the people who just get me.

As a military brat, this longing has felt permanent. I lived places only long enough to have people to miss. In adulthood, I’ve maintained the pattern (a classic TCK move) and struggled to connect in ways that truly allow me to feel understood.

At the root of these longings are the three things I think people most crave in relationships: to be seen, to be heard, and to be known.

I’m reading Exodus, and those same words keep showing up across the pages as I learn more of who God is. God is not a distant ruler zapping us with lightning for going too long without reading our Bible or for swearing out loud. God is near and intimate and closer than our closest friends. In Exodus 3 Moses encounters God in the burning bush (great story, go read it) and then as God is talking to Moses, he says: I have seen my people suffering, I have heard them cry out, I know their sufferings, and I have come to deliver them (the Christina paraphrase).

7 Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

Throughout Exodus (and the Bible at large), God tells His people He sees them, He hears them, and He knows their situation/story/life. Exodus 4:31 recounts the Israelites’ response when they learned that God had seen them and paid attention.

31 The people believed, and when they heard that the Lord had paid attention to them and that he had seen their misery, they knelt low and worshiped.

When they felt most like themselves, when they felt like God got them, when they knew they were fully understood, they worshiped. I get it, I absolutely adore the people who I feel like actually get me.

My joyful friend in Grad school saw her purpose in serving college students to be someone who can allow others to feel seen, known, and loved. She sets out to meet these fundamental longings in others while helping them meet the One who fully sees, fully knows, and fully loves all of us. She is so loved by so many because she genuinely loves others so well by seeing and hearing and knowing them. This is what it looks like to follow God’s example.

God sees. God hears. God knows. And God comes to deliver. I’m praying this Holy week that you would deeply know the truth of our God who sees and hears and knows and comes to deliver. God sees you and hears you and knows you today and chose, years ago, to come down in the form of a person through Jesus Christ to live perfectly on this earth, die a brutal death on the cross and rise again so that you and I never have to experience the true isolation and suffering of death.

Today I still miss my people and I’m grateful for the relationships to miss and the ways we can stay connected across distance. But more than that, I’m grateful that God is present with me now, and not just ethereally, but really, truly present. He is here and he sees me (sitting alone in my apartment), and he hears me (talking to myself, crying when I’m sad, or laughing hysterically because I’ve reached a point where everything’s funny), and he knows me (and my motivations, thoughts, and judgments). My God who sees, hears, and knows me also loves me dearly and will come to deliver me (from my fears, my isolation, scary illnesses, and more) in this life or the next.

A few weeks back I ran across this song on the way to church and was struck by the truth and the beauty of sweet, little Lucy singing along. Be encouraged. God sees you. God hears you. God knows you.

 

To my students – April 2020

To those of you who moved home to a family full of fun and love, I see you and I’m so happy for you.

To those of you who moved back to places with heartbreak, job loss, tension, or conflict, I see you and I’m sorry.

To those of you who lost jobs or internships, I see you and I’m sorry.

To those of you thriving in long days of introversion joy, I see you and I’m glad you’re feeling refreshed.

To those of you who are now the only Christian in your home, I see you and I acknowledge the longing for Christian community and I’m cheering you on and praying God will use you to shine His truth into dark places.

To those of you questioning God’s goodness in this season, I see you and God sees you and He can take your frustrations, doubts, and fears.

To those of you drowning in schoolwork, I see you.

To those of you with too much free time on your hands, I see you.

To those of you grieving your unfinished year, I see you and I join you.

To those of you with at risk health, living with people who are more vulnerable to disease, or living in areas with high volumes of illnesses, I see you. These are scary days and I’m so sorry.

To those of you who think the world is overreacting to a disease, I see you.

To those of you trying to make plans in the midst of uncertainty, I see you, this is beyond challenging.

To those of you just trying to make it through each next assignment, each next day, each next step, I see you.

 

There is space and while we’re not all in the same place (physically or emotionally), we can all extend to each other the same grace. Extend yourself and others grace to not think, react, or respond to things identically. Give grace when your academic progress doesn’t meet your expectations or your group members seem to not pull their weight. Give grace when you or others feel sad, angry, or happy. Give grace when you don’t accomplish great achievements during this shelter-in-place season or when others seem unproductive.

There is space to do “all the things” and there is space to just sit in the reality that this is “a whole thing”.