“Do you see me?” he asked.
He shared a brief glimpse into life as a Palestinian Christian living in the West Bank – the hardships of military rule, the reality of water rations, the acceptance of violence as the norm. He broke down and cried, as he told us of his mother dying of cancer in a hospital bed that he was unable to visit for political reasons. He bravely told us – a room of Americans – the pain he feels as an Arab, being automatically assumed to be an enemy. The pain he feels as a Christian, living in a predominantly Muslim area, of being pre-judged on a daily basis. The pain of a people group – and of a world – glancing your way yet quickly looking away …for they think they know you and your story, they presume the ugliness of your world might be too much for them to bear. The pain of not being seen.
We sat for an hour, as he and his wife shared more of their story, more of their work, more of their hope. We watched videos. We saw pictures of their family. We allowed a mother to cry silently as she saw on screen the young children she had to leave at home for this long journey. We asked questions. Mostly, we listened. We learned. And, at the end of the night, all 60 of us gathered together, laying hands on top of hands, praying over our brother and sister – seeing them in the best way possible: by picking up their story and their pain and their hope and gently laying it at the feet of Jesus.
A powerful night in many ways, I drove home with one image in my mind. Not of the 100,000 people who are denied the right to a hospital. Not of the opportunities this couple has provided for the disabled – the very bottom of the ladder in their hierarchical society. Not even of the idea of rationing water every day, not knowing when it would come back. But of a man sitting in front of a room of 60, arms outstretched, choking back tears, asking, “Do you see me?”
I often find myself asking the same question.
Do you see me?? I ask of God, as I’m working so hard to earn my salvation; to earn His love. Do you see my perfect attendance, my time given volunteering, my hours of quiet time I’ve logged? Do you see me? Am I enough yet?
Do you see me? I ask of strangers who read my writing. Do you see my heart behind the words? Or do you fixate on labels and click bait and keywords – and assume things that aren’t true? Do you see the love I’m trying to share, the truth I’m trying to bring us back to, with every word and sentence and post? Do you see me?
Do you see me? I ask of my girls. I’m here, every Thursday. I’m here, whenever you need me. I am praying for you and am cheering for you and am for you. No matter what. I’m forever in your corner. Do you see me?
And, especially this week:
Do you see me? I ask of my friends, as my to-do list grows and social calendar fills to the brim, and this lil introvert is trying her hardest to be everywhere, to be everything. But soon 14 hour day after 14 hour day after 14 hour days takes it’s toll, and my edges start to crack before I even realize I am a shell of a person. I am the monster version of Krysti that no one likes to be around (especially me). I’m flying around in dragon skin, desperate to get out, desperate for Aslan, as I’m mistakenly breathing fire onto those closest to me. They can only see the dragon. But it’s me, it’s me. Do you see me?
Do you see me?
I ask of friends-to-be.
Of cute boys.
Of my boss.
Of my parents.
In the middle of an especially crazy week during an already crazy season, I got the wonderful surprise of a dear, missed friend from Malawi turning up stateside. We got lunch last Sunday and I put away my phone and my calendar and any expectations and we lost track of time. Over beer and chips and meat (nothing like Malawi, but oh did we try!), we saw each other. It was a transplant back into a season, back into a person, that is now gone. But it was also a beautiful look at the present, and ahead to the future. It was a reminder of grace, of goodness, of a God so much bigger than we will ever understand.
We talked hardships and successes, we talked moves and changes, we talked surprises and setbacks. He breathed into me new life the way only an old friend can; he spoke truth over me the way only Yami can. In the midst of remembering time spent in a prison in Mozambique, discussing Lecrae, and debating theology, he prophesied over me and my writing. He spoke God’s word into my life and anointed me with a calling I still don’t fully understand. He gave me affirmation and challenge and truth – all wrapped in one. God was with us, in that little table in the back corner of BJ’s. And I was so grateful for Him; for a God who calls us into relationships, for redemption and beauty and grace. For soul friends, for forever friends. I remember siting there thinking, “You see me”.
I’m entering into a season of endings. Endings are the most bittersweet for me – a person with Futuristic as a top strength and yet a sentimental streak that rivals most hoarders. I’m constantly looking ahead and yet constantly trying to hold onto what is behind; it makes living in the here and now pretty dang hard sometimes.
I’m trying to avoid my usual coping mechanisms: pretending the endings aren’t here. Ignoring the issue completely, thinking if I don’t acknowledge the end of a season maybe the new one will start seamlessly with no bumps in the road. If I don’t mourn it, it doesn’t really count as a loss, right? (File under: does not work).
As I’m trying to feel what I’m feeling, trying to be okay with where I’m at, I find myself pulling back. Pulling inward. I find myself feeling lonely. I find myself anxious, having to do some much alone, having to figure out so much alone. Taking on so much weight, shifting through so many feelings. Is this healthy? Is this what I need, in order be present with these emotions? Or is this another unhealthy coping mechanism, pulling myself away from others when I need them most? I’m not quite sure. I pull myself tighter and tighter inward, deep breath after deep breath, growing accustomed to the sound of my heartbeat. The sound of my aloneness.
And then, I hear His voice.
I’m in this, too, you know.
I’m here for you.
I’m for you.
I’ve been here all along.
Do you see Me?