Well, I don’t feel sorry for THE Statue of Liberty. The person I feel sorry for is the guy on the corner dressed up like the Statue of Liberty. In our town there’s a tax service that uses the Statue of Liberty as their mascot. When January rolls around every year we start to see Mr. or Mrs. Liberty show up. I say Mr. or Mrs., because sometimes it’s an actual lady dressed as Lady Liberty, but sometimes it looks like America’s beloved icon is a drag queen. Picture a muscular guy wearing a green toga with his full beard in plain sight and his bald head sticking out of the foam crown. All the while he’s grinning and waving like The Cheshire Cat and people are passing by in a rush. He sticks around from January until April and sometimes it gets pretty nippy outside. Especially when you’re wearing a bed sheet.
I saw him recently out there and I couldn’t even bring myself to look at him. I mean, I feel really, really sorry for the guy. If I don’t make direct eye contact then I don’t have to think about the fact that he’s freezing in a green toga while the world drives by ignoring him. Everyone is going to and fro, shopping, banking, going to restaurants, running errands and he’s just standing out there grinning and waving and freezing in a green bed sheet with a foam crown on his head, trying to get people’s attention. Have mercy!
Earlier this week I was discussing an experience with someone and it reminded me of Mr. Liberty. About a year ago I was really struggling. I’ll admit it, I was not in a great place emotionally and I was tired. I was tired of cleaning up after 5 kids. I was tired of working all the time at home with practically nothing to show for it…always another sink of dishes, always another pile of laundry. I mean, they want dinner again…..didn’t we just do that yesterday? I was feeling like all I did was work, and nobody ever noticed. That my kids were mommy deaf and my husband was not in tune and I was tired of talking, tired of nagging, tired of trying to get my people’s attention.
We all know that being Mom and Wife can be a thankless job sometimes, but I had gotten to a place where I found myself muttering to no one in particular, “Am I talking to the walls? Because nobody is listening.” Maybe that’s how Mr. Liberty feels trying to get people’s attention all day while they blow exhaust fumes toward him on the corner of “This Stinks” and “Nobody Sees Me”.
About that time I decided to go on a women’s retreat with the prompting of a good friend. I had to move heaven and earth to make sure all my people had what they needed so I could get away overnight, but I headed to the lake looking forward to some quiet. As I sat outside that Saturday afternoon, I had a conversation with God about my life, my kids, my husband, my dreams, my frustrations, my tiredness, etc. I looked up in the clouds and was just staring at them like I did when I was a kid, trying to make shapes out of the white fluff.
Suddenly I saw what looked like a man’s face in the clouds. It looked like those old pictures of Jesus knocking at the door that used to hang in my childhood Sunday school room. Pretty neat, I thought. But a few minutes later, when I looked in another direction and saw a similar face in another cloud, I was a little taken aback. Hmmm? I shook my head and looked out across the lake in the opposite direction and that’s when I saw a similar face in another cloud, for the THIRD time.
Ok, so I can be a little hardheaded sometimes, but after the third time I took the hint and realized this was no coincidence and God wanted to tell me something. I said out loud to the Father, “Ok, Lord. What is this?” And this was His reply…..”I see you.”
“I see you.” My eyes welled up with tears and God’s peace washed over me as He ministered to my soul and spoke to my spirit. He saw me. He is the God who sees me. I gave up the possibility of a career to have and raise babies and it seemed like I had spent the better part of 15 years dealing with the ramifications of autism running amuck in a family, rearranging piles of laundry, teaching kids to poop in a potty chair and beating my head against a wall while home schooling a kid that didn’t want to be schooled. Even though it felt as though I was being left behind, in that moment God reminded me that He is the God who sees me. And He is the God who sees you too.
Maybe you feel like Mr. Liberty….standing there doing your job, but nobody notices. Your job for this season of your life may be taking care of an elderly parent, a disabled spouse, a sick child. Or possibly you are dealing with your own illness or disability, in chronic pain or troubled health. Maybe your single friends are all getting married and starting families and you are still waiting for Mr. or Mrs. Right. Perhaps you’ve been passed over for a promotion. Maybe your marriage has ended. You desperately want to have a child. You want just one solid friendship. Just one. Mental illness or addiction may have ravaged your life.
Feeling left behind, unseen, rejected or ignored is a lonely place, and that day sitting by the lake looking at the clouds, God wanted me to know that I was none of those things. No matter what I was feeling or what my circumstances looked like, He saw me. And just in case the three faces in the cloud were not enough, I went in for Bible study a few minutes later and the speaker shared the story of Genesis 16. In this story Hagar had been treated harshly and we find her outcast, despondent and alone. In the midst of her sadness and solitude the Lord appears to her. He comes to her aid, encourages her and gives her promises regarding her future. And her response is found in 16:13. It’s amazing and I’m not even making this stuff up. Check it out.
“Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” – New Living Translation
Can you believe I saw the clouds, God spoke to me telling me He saw me and then not 30 minutes later I’m hearing this story? I can, because that is who God is. He is the God who sees us AND the God who hears us AND the God who speaks to us in ways we can understand and need.
Friends, I’m not sure what you’re facing today. But I do know that you’re not alone. You’re not forgotten. You haven’t been dismissed. You are not being ignored. Even if the people around you aren’t noticing what you do or who you are, there’s a God who sees. In the story of Hagar, she was in distress and God came and found her. In my story, I was tired and frustrated and God came and found me. In your story…..in God’s good time, He will come and find you too.
Photo via Visualhunt.com