I looked up from the magazine I’d been trying to read to watch Cole jump into the pool in the exact same way he had done 7 times before.
A few seconds later, his head popped up out of the water like a cork.
“Did you see me, Mom? Did you see my jump? It was my best one!”
“Yes! It was fantastic!” I lifted my magazine once more, ready to go beyond the opening paragraph I read 7 times in the last 10 minutes.
“I’m going to go even higher this time. Watch me!”
Down goes the magazine. Splash goes Cole.
“Did you see me?”
“Yes, it was wonderful!”
And so it continued.
Summer days at the pool were not always as relaxing as I hoped. My fantasies of lounging on a chaise with a magazine and sipping on a cold glass of lemon flavored water were replaced with the reality of slathering sunscreen onto squirming kids, yelling at those same kids to slow down and walk-not-run, getting the last sip from a left over (warm) juice box and never finishing a magazine article. And of course, my summers were filled with those three words, “Are you watching?”.
Observing the kids jump into the pool in a variety of poses was fun for a few moments. But it was clear they wanted my undivided attention the entire time. It quickly became wearisome.
“Are you watching?” has been a question I’ve often posed to God. Sometimes I wonder if He is reading a magazine. Or perhaps He is wearied by the same feelings, the same worries, and the same circumstances that so often repeat themselves in my life.
But what I believe Cole really wanted to know, and what my heart cries out to know from God is the deeper question: “Are you SEEING me?” Because I don’t just want to know if God is watching me; I want to know if He is actually seeing me. Not glancing up between sentences from a magazine, not placating me with hollow exclamations, but really, truly, seeing who I am and what I need.
Sometimes I grovel for attention and substitute my yawning chasm of need to be seen for the shallow victory of good Facebook post. Sometimes I am blessed by people who actually see me for who I am—in all my neurosis, talents, desires, and victories. It feeds my soul and I believe that is healthy and how we are designed to need people.
But people will never see all of the parts of our souls that require attention.
It is God alone, the one who counts the hairs on our heads and formed our yet-to-be-born shape, who can see us for all we are, all we need, and all we are meant to be.
God isn’t just watching you. He sees. He sees all your circumstances, all your fears, all the joys and the way you crack up every single time the “Jake from State Farm” commercial runs. He is with you when you succeed at new things or fail once again at the same old things.
But it’s one thing to understand this, and it’s another thing entirely to experience being seen.
To experience that you are seen, you need to slow down. You need to breathe in, breathe out, and look around with intention. When you look for God in every moment, you will find God looking at you. You must endeavor to live a vulnerable life; one that declares your need to be seen and can ask Abba over and over again, “Are you watching?” not because you need to get His attention (He’s never not paying attention) but because you’re declaring your utter dependence for Him every time you say it.
And every time you ask, He will answer in the affirmative. Every single time. And we can jump into the deep waters of His undying attention, pop up like corks, and know we are seen by the One who loves us most.