I love you means I see you.
I see you.
I see the little girl you once were and not the bitter woman who lashes out when she’s hurt. I don’t see the walls she’s built up but I see the hurt beyond them. I see the little boy that you were so long ago and not the sarcasm or the anger and I don’t hear the frustration in your voice.
Easier said than done, I think.
I believe that when we really seek to love someone we also seek to see them. With intention, we do our best to see beyond the exterior of someone and see them for who they really are.
And I know a lot of us don’t feel seen. Invisible. Translucent. We walk around our homes and our workplaces and we are not seen. We may be tolerated or liked or needed, even, but seen? Being truly seen is a rare thing. But I think we can do it.
God, in His compassion, sees us.
El Roi, the God who sees, is the name Hagar gives to God when she is on her own in the wilderness. God sees me, she says. God sees my heart and my needs. God sees me and He loves me.
Whether it is our husband or our wife or our children, our mother or our best friend, I think that we can improve our love-relationships by doing our best to see one another.
I don’t believe that we were meant to live life on the Internet. I’m saying nothing new when I highlight the fact that we are tethered to our phones, our Instagram feed and to the thousand “friends” we have on Facebook in ways that we never would have dreamed 15 years ago. I also believe that this tethering, this binding of ourselves to the unimportant details in the world takes away from the relationships we have around us.
The only way we can see our people (and by that I mean our spouses, our children, our very close friends or our very close family) is for us to unsee the rest of the world. It might mean turning off the television for a week, closing a laptop for the evening or putting down the novel we’ve been reading.
Seeing only happens when there is room to see.
We parent, we are full-time spouses or adult children, but how often in our busy lives do we take the time to really ruminate or think about our children or our spouses? The reasons they do what they do and say what they say? Excepting the very newly-wedded, when was the last time you caught yourself daydreaming about your spouse? Or thinking about any good memories you’ve had with your mother or father?
We race and rush and drive and sleep and cook and we very rarely take the time to actually think deeply and purposefully about our very close people. In order to see our people, we must remember them. We must have them in our minds. Not just their immediate needs but the “who” of who they are. It is purposeful introspection about their lives: how they were raised, what are their biggest hurts/fears, who are they trying to please, why do they become angry/sad when something happens.
To see them we must think about them with the intention of understanding them.
Seeing someone means noticing important things about them. It isn’t a critical eye of noticing, but it is an intentional approach to interaction with this person. To a child it might mean noticing their small Lego buildings or intricate artwork they keep in a file near their bed. To your spouse it might mean that you take time to remember things they’ve said.
Noticing our people means we must cultivate an observant way of life. We are watchful and we see and hear things, perhaps, with more energy than before. And then when we notice we verbalize it with love as our purpose.
One of the best ways to see our people and to continue to see them is to remember them in prayer. It helps our own hearts when we do this, it brings us closer to God and I believe it also can bring us closer to our people. We notice and see and then we pray accordingly.
One thing that no one ever told me before I got married was that as a married couple we would fall “in” and “out” of love many times throughout our lives. We always are committed, we always are partnering and we always love, but that “in love” feeling? It goes and it comes. And that is okay because it’s normal.
It’s the same with our kids. We love them well and we parent them the best we know how, but good grief, sometimes its really, really hard to be a parent. And with gritted teeth and forced smiles we kick our feet out of bed for yet another day of chaos. They go through cycles as well as we do.
All of our long term relationships have good years and bad ones, which is why it’s probably good to rinse and repeat whenever we feel ourselves slipping.
None of us want to feel unnoticed. All of us want to be known and understood. I love you means I see you. When we say we love someone let it also mean that we see them and I believe that when we begin to practice this kind of love, others will follow.
I’m only just beginning down this road of seeing the people around me and I have a long, long way to go. But I hope that the closest people to me never feel invisible, unloved or unseen.
Do you feel seen? What does it take to “see” the close people in your life?