It’s happened so often that I should be able to see it coming. I was talking with a friend, and let loose with a sarcastic comment. But instead of making her laugh, the comment stung. I had accidentally found a sore spot, and I hurt her.
But there was a further problem: She really didn’t want me to know. I owed her an apology, but apologizing would force her to admit her sensitivity, and that would have made her even more uncomfortable.
I could have forced the issue, but I felt like I’d already done enough. I ended up resorting to a non-apology apology, I didn’t mean that the way it sounded. She gave a flustered denial, Don’t worry about it. I knew what you meant.
Besides wishing that life came with some sort of delete button (or even a flux-capacatior-equipped DeLorean so I could journey back in time and redo these encounters), I’ve spent a lot of time scolding myself for this incident. Why did I say that? What possessed me to think this wisecrack could be anything else but hurtful? And yet, I understand her desire to hide just as well. When I’m feeling vulnerable, I also like to hide. During times when I really should be opening up to receive healing, I retreat. I hide behind a book, or go work in my office to shut myself away from my family and the world.
I usually resort to pop psychology to explain these things, but when it comes down to it, all my issues can be explained in the book of Genesis. I’m a sinner who keeps trying to fix herself. Most of the time I'm either building my own personal Towers of Babel, or covering myself with fig leaves. Look at me! I scream. Just don’t look too closely!
We see this in the story of Hagar, the Egyptian servant of Abraham’s wife Sarah. We don’t know the details of Hagar’s story, but we can assume her servanthood in a foreign country didn’t come about in a happy way. And then she was used by her mistress to bear Abraham’s child. Then she was mistreated because of it. And because Hagar is also a sinner, she tried to capitalize on it as well. So she was sent away with her son, and she is despairing for their lives. Then God intervenes. And she refers to him as “the God who sees.”
The God who sees. The God who sees our strivings and our insecurities. The God who sees our sin clearer than we can, and the futile attempts to cover it over ourselves. The God who sees is the only one who can fix it, and he fixes it by sending his Son, the only solution that can actually work.
The answer is not to keep striving. Nor is the answer to hide in shame. The answer is to rest and trust in the God who sees. Because the one who truly sees is the only one who can offer the true solution.