Fully Seen, Fully Known, and Fully Loved

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My mother could take one look at me—literally one look—and know if something was wrong.  She could hear my voice on the phone and within ten seconds knew what kind of day I was having.

When my mother passed away three years ago, I realized just how much that feeling of being known meant to me. It wasn’t that she took her knowledge of me and fixed my problems or said the right thing, because some things can’t be fixed and sometimes there’s nothing to say. It was simply that she knew the nuances of my voice or the look in my eyes. She saw me; she knew me.

As mothers we seek to know our children. We begin when they are babies, trying to identify a hungry cry versus a tired cry; we continue as they grow older, discerning what makes them tick, what they enjoy, what they struggle with, what makes them angry or sad. At the same time, we, as mothers, seek to be known ourselves; in fact all humans want to be known. Conflict and disappointment often arise when we feel unknown or unacknowledged by those closest to us.

The popularity of personality tests, such as the enneagram and the Myers-Briggs, is evidence that people desire to be known, not only to better understand themselves, but to be better known by those around them. When you read about your enneagram number and its qualities, problems, challenges, or gifts, you feel known. The enneagram appears to affirm the test taker: I know you! And when you share your number with your spouse, coworkers, friends, or a random person at a dinner party, then they too can “know” you because your number seems to mean something.

But as much comfort as the enneagram can bring to those who seek to be known, it is incomplete and faulty. Some test-takers receive a score or a label that (rightfully) doesn’t line up with who they are, and they feel more misunderstood than ever. After all, we are more than just a number from a personality test.

While I long to know my children to better love them and serve them, I’m not up to the task.

As wonderful as it was to have my mom know from my voice alone how I was doing, it was but a foretaste of the real thing.

I simply cannot be fully known or seen on this side of heaven by another person or a test, nor can my children be fully known and perfectly loved by me.

I keep coming back to the story of Martha and Mary—two sisters who had the privilege of hosting Jesus in their home. Martha is “distracted with much serving” while Mary “sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.” Jesus, when approached by a stressed and frustrated Martha, says, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10: 38-42).

We read this story, place ourselves as Mary or Martha and feel good or bad about ourselves based on which sister we are that day. But like with any scripture, it’s not about us—it’s about Jesus and who He is. Jesus saw Martha. He saw and recognized that she was “anxious and troubled about many things.”

How often does your husband or best friend fail to notice that you are “anxious and troubled about many things?”

No one seems to notice you doing the millionth load of laundry or picking up the Legos. You don’t get a pat on the back for driving smelly boys to baseball practice, or for applying makeup and perfecting the bun for your daughter’s dance recital. No one acknowledges the balancing act of the working mother as she busts it home from a long day at the office to feed and bathe the children. It is so easy to feel unseen in the day-to-day existence of motherhood, and a feeling of despondency and frustration takes over—much like Martha felt.

But when Jesus sees Martha, He takes it a step further than just recognizing how Martha feels and what she is doing. Jesus gently rebukes her and points her towards the portion that really does last and gives her a true sense of identity. Out of his love for her and a desire for her to have the “good portion,” He shifts her perspective from being seen here on earth to being seen and in relationship with Himself.

Jesus died on the cross and rose again, conquering all sin and death—past, present, and future. And He did so fully knowing me in all my intricacies, faults, and even gifts. He died for me even when He knew what a mess I am, so that I could be seen by the Father as the Father sees his beloved Son.

Through Christ alone, I am known and seen. I am more than a laundress, chauffeur, cook, employee, friend, and diaper changer. God does not see my failures as a mother, my impatience, or my self-centeredness. God doesn’t see me as the sum of my PTO involvement, Bible study attendance, and community service.

He sees me as He sees His Son.

As 1 John 3:1 says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” God sees me as a daughter, a beloved child who is clothed in Christ’s righteousness.

When I feel unknown or unseen here on this earth, I need only look to the cross to remember how known and beloved I truly am. I turn my eyes to “the good portion, which will not be taken away from [me].”

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace

We hope you have enjoyed our celebration of Jesus’ love and care for moms this week. In case you missed it, we shared a little something for mothers on the blog on Monday and Wednesday

Happy Mother’s Day!

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