I am not fond of the game of Hide and Seek. As a child, I would participate, but with unspoken hesitancy, for my inclination was counterproductive to the goal of the game. My desire as a child was to disappear. At five years old I can remember hours spent contemplating the transience of life and exploring the colorful landscapes of my imagination. My preference for introversion meant that I was most comfortable cocooned in hidden places. Hide and Seek can be a frightening game for one who prefers to remain invisible.
In adulthood, though introspection comes as naturally as breathing for me, I have learned that extroversion is considered the norm, a fact that often leaves me treading water in a giant pool of stereotypes and judgments. I am not shy, I am fairly confident and assertive, but my soul is most energized in the sweet balm of solitude. There is a complexity to this desire to remain hidden because no matter how frightened we are of being known, we are born with a longing to be seen.
I know of this hunger to be seen. It is not to be confused with a quest for fame and prestige. Nor is it about visual perception and acknowledgment. It is not counter to humility either, as some may suggest because humility is never about being small, unseen and unnoticed. You see, our Creator built this desire to be seen into our DNA. And from the beginning of time, He planned to fulfill it, with the knowledge that no one else could.
I have been open about struggling to find where I fit in a world that places value on perspectives that I do not understand. I have, at times, fought to find my place in the Church as well, having faced closed doors and misperceptions has lead me to wrestle with my image and my understanding of God. In a culture of performing producing and perfecting there are many whose presence seems to go unnoticed. And so I have asked the question as of late, “do my longings, and my endeavors remain unseen by God as well?” What has been so profoundly revealed to me in this season of life, however, is that loneliness and invisibility in proper perspective drive us to our Creator. He is the only one who can meet us in complete intimacy, knowing us fully and loving us perfectly.
In Scripture, God is given the name El Roi, “the God who sees me,” by an Egyptian slave named Hagar. Hagar knew about God. She must have wondered if He knew or cared about her situation. In an attempt to flee mistreatment and oppression, Hagar took off in the direction of her homeland. She was pregnant and alone facing a menacing desert. Her future was uncertain and her past too tender to recall. She felt abandoned by everyone on earth and overlooked by God in heaven. Hagar was a girl who had lived through fractured ambition and unmet promises, and what she wanted, what she most yearned for, is what any of us want: to be seen. And she was. Hagar felt lost and misplaced, and yet God found her.
There is a deep-seated significance in a “God who sees me” particularly for those in society who at times feel insignificant or powerless. When I stop to reflect on the import of El Roi, I see with unquestionable certainty, the God who seeks for us in the desert, in the midst of confusion and loss, and who encourages us to face the obstacles in our lives with renewed purpose and strength. We are significant enough to be sought after, noticed and beheld by God. And though there may be times when we feel overlooked by some, there is faith in a God who sees the promise of the fullest expression of who we are meant to be.
The name El Roi gives significance to my treasure as a person. It implies that God sees my heart. He sees the unabridged truth about every situation. And because God sees me, I am never forsaken. He is a God who will challenge, who will comfort, who will shelter and who will redeem.
“She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me”