“Said the night wind to the little lamb,
‘Do you see what I see?
Way up in the sky, little lamb,
Do you see what I see?
A star, a star dancing in the night’…”
In the past, the Christmas season has been a high trigger time for me as it is for many. The reason was that growing up, life was not as it seemed. Christmas was the time of year that the expectation was for our lives to look happy, joyous, and celebratory, but beneath the surface pain, lies, and fear perpetrated my soul.
My grandmother and my mom made every attempt to paint the perfect picture of a happy family at Christmas for us. Their intentions were good, partly out of survival. They could have designed a Norman Rockwell card, but when you live in an abusive home, the things happening behind the closed doors, well, they just didn’t stop happening for Christmas. In fact, I think it made it worse to pretend everything was so happy and good.
Those trauma experiences embedded lies deep in my psyche. So much so that, many times without warning, thoughts and fears will slap me across the face. These unsettling feelings bubble up like sludge, feelings of “the rug’s getting ready to be pulled out,” or “things are too good; something bad is going to happen,” among others.
A few days ago, Father God posed the question to me, “Do you see what I see?” I think I may have heard Him humming the tune to me. He knows it is one of my favorites.
My thoughts immediately rushed to a recent event I attended, where I displayed the artwork of some of the participants in the art class I lead for a local ministry, which helps women out of the clutches of the sex trafficking industry.
When I see those ladies, I don’t see them the way they think I do. I can tell when they hang their head low, staring at their feet, or their eyes dart around the room, that they are afraid of what I might see in them. I know, because I used to be afraid of the same thing, the same judgment coming from others when they looked into my eyes.
When I look at them, I don’t see their past sins, the chains that have held them, or the wounds they still carry. I see them as beautiful, priceless daughters of God. I see how much God loves them. I see the potential God has placed in them. I guess one reason I do is that I remember what He has brought me out of.
A few weeks ago, one participant walked in with her sketchbook tucked safely under her arm. She carefully placed it on a table, reminding me that she promised me she would bring it to the next class. I knew what this meant to her. It held her soul on paper, and she was giving me the privilege of seeing it, of seeing the real her. I told her how honored I was, how if she accidentally left it, I’d have to guard it with my life. It held her dreams, her pain, her scars, her fears, how she viewed herself. What a gift to see.
It’s much, much easier for me to look at someone else coming out of so much pain and see them the way God sees them. Yet, in my day to day, I still struggle with lies of who I really am. Do I see what God sees when He looks at me? Sadly, often the answer is no. Most days, I still see my brokenness, my past, my fears, my failures.
That’s not how my Papa God sees me though.
I asked Him one time how I can trust what He keeps telling me about myself, when I still struggle with the same lies, especially when they are bombarding my mind like bombs being exploding on a battlefield. His answer was simple, but not what I had thought of before. He said that He is eternal, and therefore, already in the future. When He speaks something about me, it’s because it already true of me from His point of view as the eternal one; therefore, I can trust what He says to be true. It also helps that He is in and of Himself completely truth, so it’s impossible for Him to lie to me.
When He says I’m more than an overcomer through Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37), it’s not just because it’s in His Word and therefore some nice little cliché about me. It’s because He already sees my end, and that I have already overcome.
In a Graham Cooke class I took last year, the challenge was to write a detailed identity statement sheet of how God sees me, what God calls me, the destiny He has for my life. I wrote it when I took the class, and sometimes I will glance at it taped to my bathroom mirror, but when those lies began whispering again, I felt the Lord ask me to update my list because He is always adding more clarity to my identity, it seems.
So, I did the exercise again, and found myself asking Him, “Is this really the way you see me?” Probably, not the most faith-filled question ever asked. Yet, I heard the gentle whisper, “Yes, child, this is part of what is written about you in heaven. This is how you are seen here because this is who you really are.”
Renewing your mind, as it talks about in Romans 12:2, is lining up our thoughts to the thoughts of God. Seeing ourselves, others, and Him, through heaven’s perspective.
When Jesus laid in that manger, I wonder how many people just saw Him as any other baby. Did they miss the eternal one in flesh suckling at his mother’s breast? Did they just see him as a Nazarene boy born out of wedlock? Or like the shepherds in the field, did they realize God, God was being held in their human hands?
Do I see God for who He really is? I was in a worship service recently standing in the back against the wall, one of my favorite places to be. All of sudden, it was like heaven opened and as an overlay, I was standing in front of God in all His glory, the God who holds the universes in His hands. The congregation continued singing as normal about the greatness of God, calmly clapping their hands in rhythm. I thought I was going to explode, literally. Thoughts of being escorted out by their security blipped across my mind. “God,” I cried out inside, “they have no idea how great you are!”
The truth is I’ve only had the smallest drop of His greatness, like a minute molecule. Yet, how I see Him is even more important than how I see myself. Do I see Him as good? Do I see Him as love? He is continually drawing me into renewing my mind as to how I see Him as well.
How do you see others? Through His lens or through your pain or fear? Ask Him how He sees others. It will change how you treat them.
What does God see when He looks at you? Ask Him. Then ask for His grace to change your thoughts to line up to His.
How do you see Him? Make sure that view is based on who is as revealed in His word, in His character, in your experiences with Him.
Do you see what I see?
“The child, the child
Sleeping in the night,
He will bring us goodness and light.
He will bring us goodness and light.
He will bring us goodness and light.”
Lyrics from “Do You Hear What I Hear?” by Noel Regney / Gloria Shayne
Featured Image by Jakob Owens