Meditations on The God Who Sees Me

by | Jan 25, 2022 | Uncategorized | 13 comments

Hagar God Who Sees Me
Merchandise is Here!

I’ve been thinking lately about how much women are often made invisible or ignored. 

Specifically, I’ve been reading through Every Young Man’s Battle (I’ll write a review soon; I just need to process its awfulness first), and I’m amazed at how the authors keep telling boys just to ignore women or turn away from them. Receptionists, baristas, etc, you name it: You’re supposed to try not to see them.

This was never the approach of Jesus, and today I want to just do a very quick series of thoughts, since it’s Tuesday and I don’t normally write much on Tuesdays. 

We’ll start with this graphic that I shared last night on Instagram and Facebook: 

Do You See this Woman asks Jesus

In the story, a woman has been weeping and anointing Jesus’ feet, and others have been thinking badly of her. And Jesus asks them, “Do you see her?” He sees her. And he invites the men to truly see her as well, for who she is. 

It reminds me of this that we wrote in The Great Sex Rescue, after talking about how harmful the obligation sex message is, and how evangelicals have turned it into justifying coercion in all too many cases:

Great Sex Rescue

From The Great Sex Rescue

When the three of us think of how badly women have been hurt by the obligation-sex message, whether through manipulation, obligation, coercion, or pain, we’re reminded of the Bible story of Hagar, Abraham, and Sarah. As you may remember, God had promised Abraham he would have a son and from this son God would make a great nation. The problem? Abraham and Sarah were both old, and Sarah was barren. In desperation, Sarah suggested that Abraham have a child with her slave, Hagar.

Nothing in the Bible story tells us that Hagar was a willing participant. As a servant, she would not have been able to truly consent. Her feelings and needs wouldn’t matter. Nevertheless, Abraham heeded Sarah’s advice and used Hagar to have a son. Some years later, miraculously Abraham does have a child with Sarah. Now Hagar and her son Ishmael were threats to Isaac, the child of the promise. Abraham sends Hagar and her son away.

While she is in the desert, God provides for her. And here’s where things get interesting. Hagar is the first person in Scripture who is given the honor of bestowing a name upon God. And the name she chooses? “The God who sees me.” After being sexually assaulted, forced to carry a baby, and then abandoned, never hav- ing her needs or wishes taken into account, being invisible and used to meet other people’s needs, God sees her.

And being seen makes all the difference.

God sees women. God does not say to women, “Your experience doesn’t matter compared to your husband’s tremendous need.” God does not tell women, “Let your husband ejaculate inside you, no matter how you feel, because otherwise you are in disobedience.” No, God says, “I designed sex to be a deep knowing of two people. And that, my child, means that both of you matter.

One last thing–the horrible story of the Levite and the concubine.

Someone shared this amazing Instagram video from Jo Vitale about a very disturbing story in the Old Testament. She got me thinking along these lines again this week, and I think this is worth everyone watching!

We serve a God who truly sees us.

He sees you today. May you rest in that, dear friends.

The Great Sex Rescue

Changing the conversation about sex & marriage in the evangelical church.

What if you’re NOT the problem with your sex life?

What if the things that you’ve been taught have messed things up–and what if there’s a way to escape these messages?

Welcome to the Great Sex Rescue.

What do you think? Have you ever felt invisible? Have you ever been angry at some of these Bible stories? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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13 Comments

  1. Nathan

    > > And that, my child, means that both of you matter.”

    It’s heartbreaking how many people call this kind of thing “man bashing”. I don’t like man bashing either, but a call for equality, a statement that the feelings (and needs, urges, desires, etc.) of both men AND women matter and are important is hardly man bashing.

    Unless, as you yourself pointed out on Facebook, you believe in the idea of male hierarchy and that only the feelings of men matter. Hopefully, this idea will soon fade away.

    Reply
  2. Chris

    I’m a guy. I have felt invisible all my life. And my experience echoes most of the men I know.

    Reply
    • Nathan

      In some ways, I get this. I’ve felt that, too, but in my experience it’s NOT strictly because of our gender. Some of us are invisible, some are not, and it’s usually based on various other qualities.

      Reply
    • Listening

      Chris,

      I believe that truly listening to, processing, and receiving others’ stories just as they are told goes a long way in both understanding that person AND allowing her/him to feel understood.

      As a Christian woman, I am genuinely curious as to what has made you feel invisible all your life. Would you be willing to elaborate a bit so that perhaps I could better understand where you’re coming from, the specific sources of your pain? (Because feeling invisible—having no voice or “place at the table”—truly IS a terribly painful experience!)

      Thank you!

      Reply
    • CMT

      God sees you too.

      Sheila is taking aim at a specific form of erasure that conservative Christian subculture has used against women, but there are lots of other forms.

      If you’re interested in sharing more that could be a really worthwhile conversation. I don’t know if you’re referring to church or religious experiences specifically, but I have also heard from men who felt invisible in those spaces because they did not fit a specific mold of masculinity.

      Reply
    • E

      Hi Chris,
      I am sorry that you feel that way. What do you think would help you feel more seen?

      Reply
    • Jim

      Chris,
      I have felt invisible. I still do today. For me, it is because I am heavy, a nerd and struggle with depression. I do not fit the confident mold that society has for men.

      I am still surprised sometimes that I have a wife who loves me since I often don’t feel ‘masculine’. It often feels worse since I have sons that I want to model healthy masculinity to.

      Reply
  3. Anon

    There is so much in the Bible that is very difficult to read, especially when you think of the enormous amount of human suffering that lies behind the brief accounts. It’s easy to gloss over the violence, particularly against women, by saying that ‘culture was different back then’, but while it may have meant some forms of abuse were more widespread, I doubt that made much difference to the suffering of the individual to know that she was one of many.

    Reply
  4. Nathan

    The whole “look away, bounce the eyes, ignore all women” philosophy is clearly NOT how God wants us to interact with each other, but it’s really just a symptom of a deeper problem.

    In order to move past that, we first need to tackle the extremely low bar that many in Christian circles have assigned to lust. Noticing a woman is lusting. Feeling any sexual attraction or desire is lusting. Talking to a woman or even being in the same room is (or could lead to) lusting. And so on, especially the extra idea that if a man DOES lust, it’s the woman’s fault for tempting him.

    This causes men and boys to feel ashamed of feelings that are perfectly natural and NOT lusting. The difference between real lusting and normal sexual feelings needs to be taught.

    Then people can know if they talk to a woman and feel sexual attraction or desire, that it isn’t lusting and it isn’t wrong. Just move ahead with other things, and don’t wallow in the feelings and obsess over them.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes! We’ll be talking about this again a lot in the next month as we delve into our survey results. I truly think it’s terrible teaching. Like Keith says, it makes innocent men feel guilty, while allowing guilty men to say, “well, all men do it, so it can’t be that bad.”

      Reply
  5. Nathan

    Chris’s invisibility (see above)

    Not sure if this is the same thing, but in some ways I feel invisible at my church. Here’s why.

    Our pastor cites studies (though he’s never given us a specific reference) that show that families typically follow the dad’s view of church. If dad doesn’t go, the wife and kids won’t go, either. But if dad DOES go, the others will also. Maybe this is because many men say “If I have to go, WE ALL have to go”.

    The point is that this is their justifcation for the church mainly reaching out to men. They care about women and children, too, but they say if they reach men, the others will show up also.

    That’s fine so far. But their outreaches are very stereotypical. For example, like many big churches, we have neighborhood groups, smaller groups of people where we can make a one on one connection. These are based on geography or speficif need (like a group addicted to drugs or a singles group). They do a group prayer, discussion and bible study, then go off and socialize. For that last part, they break up into boys and girls groups.

    Again, fine, but every single men’s sub-group (and I do mean every one) plays golf and ONLY plays golf, and never EVER does anything else, EVER. And I really don’t like golf. The church also has big main events, but only of two types: Golf (again) and car shows. Not really into either.

    Finally, they have parent/child activities, but ony same sex ones. That is, they either have father/son activities or mother/daughter activities (and very few of those, mostly it’s father/son things). So a dad with only daughters (that’s me) or a mom with only sons get left out.

    I’ve brought it up a few times, and the church leaders say they’ll work on it, but nothing so far.

    Reply
    • Anon

      Yes! This is one of my real bugbears – the CHURCH is meant to BE a family, not to be FOR families (and for ‘families’ read ‘married mother and father with at least one boy and one girl’).

      As a woman, I’ve had a similar issue with women’s events over the years. Most of them assume all women are married with kids, so ‘women’s events’ tend to be about how to encourage your husband or raise your kids. And even the ones that don’t assume that all women love girly stuff. So you have ‘pamper evenings’ and fashion shows and talks on dieting and makeup, and if there is ever a ‘Bible teaching’ time, it’s basically just cutesy stories and endless chorus singing. And I’m sitting there wishing I could sneak into the men’s breakfast instead, because their speakers are so much more interesting!

      And as you say, so many of the ‘family’ events exclude single parents or divorced parents or dads of girls and mums of boys. Time we started acting like a real family, where everyone has a place.

      Reply

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