I SEE YOU
It’s the Sunday evening following Thanksgiving. And it’s been a bizarre few days.
At the start of my long weekend, I deleted my social apps, with the foresight that I’d get a lot more done if I wasn’t habitually tapping the Instagram icon on my iPhone every 30 minutes. Since, not only is it Sunday, but Sunday evening, I figured I’d give both accounts (Facebook and Instagram) a login, curious to know what I had missed.
Apparently, I missed a lot. And, not only did I miss a lot, but scrolling through the feed of joyful faces, I realized quickly that I have nothing to contribute. Unlike everybody and their momma, I did not get engaged, nor did I give birth, or buy my first home. I didn’t go Black Friday shopping. I didn’t run a marathon (or even a 5k Turkey Trot). Nor was I one of the estimated 51 million people that traveled for Thanksgiving this year. It was my first holiday away from home — or, rather, away from my family that gives tangibility to “home”.
Truthfully, there was nothing about my holiday that is shareable (except for the embarrassing admittance that I cried, visibly, in the same café on two separate occasions, as well as the pasta aisle of a grocery store while shopping for dinner). Though, this is not necessarily a point worth making either. I like to try and I cry a lot, to the horror of my business-savvy, football-playing, cigar-smoking Dutch father.
Most of my writing has a beginning and an end — or, rather, a problem and a solution. The majority of my work, if not all of it, are stories of redemption; they are testimonies to where I’ve been and what God did to bring me through them. The common theme is a “beauty for ashes” exchange, in which the depths of my darkness — and God’s pivotal, timely move — is the climax, the falling action is my growing in wisdom and understanding, and the denouement is my “aha!” moment, and preceding (and shareable) blog post. This is not one of those stories.
In my Facebook scrolling, I thought, in a voice so white-girl you might think I was also drinking a pumpkin spice latte: “I am *literally* the only person that did not get engaged this week. Or give birth, or buy a home…run a marathon…”. I wondered if I was the only one who spent their holiday eating pizza from Whole Foods, deep conditioning their hair, and re-reading old magazines from 2013. And then, of course, the light bulb flashed: “Obviously not everybody got engaged, gave birth, bought a house….but those stories are not the ones being shared.” My story, though I was certainly convinced otherwise for a moment, is certainly not an anomaly.
Immediately I remembered an encouraging message by Pastor Robert Madu, based on the story titled in the ESV translation of Luke, Jesus Heals a Woman and Jairus’ Daughter: “Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus' feet, he implored him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying.
As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
While he was still speaking, someone from the ruler's house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher anymore.” But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.” And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat. And her parents were amazed, but he charged them to tell no one what had happened.”
Imagine the mind-workings of Jairus in this moment; his daughter is home dying, and Jesus stops to heal a woman after listening to her entire story. For Jairus, this is more than frustration or impatience (or holiday loneliness…); this is a life-or-death moment.
Pastor Manu’s point is this: often, we have to wait on our miracles, and in the meantime, watch everyone else get theirs — no matter our faithfulness, no matter our servanthood, no matter the urgency and the frequency of our praying. And, perhaps the miracle that God intends to make in your life is more than a healing. It’s death — and then a resurrection so miraculous, so wonderful, so imaginative that only God, and God alone, can receive the glory.
I want to emphasize my starting point: I see you. But God does, too, with a miracle in His back pocket so awesome that you couldn’t even dream it up right now. One of my favorite passages is in Habakkuk: “Look among the nations and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.” I started this post with the simple intention of relaying: “I see you”. Not in a way that is to say, “way to go!” or “props” or anything like that, but in a way that’s more like: I see you because, me, too.
But (!), as writing is therapeutic and often revelatory for me (and therefore, more for me than anyone else but backed by the hopeful expectancy that it might affect change in someone else as a result), my encouragement is, instead, to await in wonder, and expect to be astounded. Your miracle is coming. And, strangely enough, we’ve arrived at a conclusion after all.
Damn, Gina. God did it again.