This month we are challenging ourselves to “See What God Sees” in other people. As Christ-followers, we are on a journey toward greater compassion, empathy, and love for all of God’s creation. As I thought about seeing what God sees, I realized that before I start hypothesizing how God sees others, I must first ask myself the question, “How does God see me?”
Maybe it sounds selfish, but I believe all paths to growth and expansion start with introspection. What have you been taught about how God sees you?
As a child, I was told things like Jesus loves me, God knows my innermost thoughts and desires, there is nothing I can do to separate myself from God’s love, and God blessed the day I was born. And this message was reinforced in Scripture, often with this Psalm:
For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
I come to the end—I am still with you. – Psalm 139:13-18 (NRSV)
It's such beautiful poetry that I want to cozy up in it to fall asleep at night. God knows me. God takes delight in me. God celebrates me. God is with me. This is such precious sentiment, but I think sometimes I get caught up in the individualization of my relationship with God. One of the tenets I admire from Eastern cultures is that the community is uplifted more than the individual. This tenet seems to align perfectly with many messages of Jesus: love each other, care for each other, serve each other, put others first. But in the Western side of the world, we end up asking, “Yes, but what does this mean for me and my relationship with God?”
And that’s not a selfish question. Well, maybe it is, but Jesus addressed that, too! He shared stories of the lost sheep, lost coin, prodigal son, and embracing grace rather than rules. God looks for the individuals who are hurting and lost to embrace them and bring them into the loving fold of the community. But we must fulfill our role as the loving community.
My therapist has challenged me lately to better hold the tension of the world. Both Western and Eastern philosophies are true; God cares about the individual and God cares about the community. But I have trouble holding this tension, and many others, equally without prioritizing one over the other.
If I were to take a step back and try to see what God sees, it might look more complex than I imagine when only focusing on my own relationship with God. God might say to me…
Alyssa, I love you intensely, and I love every individual in the universe with as much vigor as I love you. All cultures and subcultures are rich and vibrant, but they are also broken. I celebrate the abundance that surrounds you, and I mourn for your poor spirit. Your experiences are true and valid, and your siblings’ experiences are true and valid.
Sonder is a word you may or may not know. It is the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. I think we’ve each had that existential moment when we’re sitting in a coffee shop or on a park bench people-watching and feel touched by sonder. It can be a beautiful moment of empathy, humility, and wonder. It allows us to make ourselves smaller for a moment and compassionately observe the people around us. Maybe the experience of sonder is a glimpse into seeing what God sees.
I’m curious, what does the phrase "See What God Sees" mean to you? Ponder this thought today as you observe creation moving all around you.