A few weeks ago, our pastor preached on Luke 7:11-17, where Jesus raises the widow’s son, restoring him to life. He talked about how Jesus sees the woman, and how there is seeing, and then there is really seeing. We can know that Jesus really sees us, and that is a comfort when we sense that others don’t truly see us for who we are or what is going on in our lives.
A blessing by John O’Donahue includes this line:
May you have friends who can see you.
That simple thought is a significant blessing because many people move through life at such a frantic pace that they are unable to see others, even those who are in close physical proximity to them. Physical closeness does not translate into being seen in the way that Jesus sees and that O’Donahue invokes in his blessing.
Being seen involves understanding, at least the willingness to understand. It means seeing another for who they are. To see another for who they are means not allowing stereotypes to govern one’s seeing. It means not projecting the actions or habits of one person on another. For example, you can’t assume that your spouse will act as your parent did.
To have friends who can see you has been one of my greatest blessings. Being misunderstood and mislabeled is painful, but is more common than it should be, especially because it takes time and attention to see another. The easy way out is to stereotype, project and label another. We think if we can do this, we can “manage” or control another.
But people are not machines or projects. We are, each one of us, uniquely created by God, with our own distinctive desires, gifts and vulnerabilities. To label another is to deny their uniqueness. If we choose to follow Jesus, then following means a willingness and effort to see others.