Seeing & Still Loving

Tim Jackson —  November 20, 2012 — 5 Comments

Recently, while revisiting and revising some material on grief and loss that I wrote over 20 years ago, I ran across this amazing quote from C. S. Lewis that deeply encouraged me and thought I’d share it so that maybe it will do the same for you:

“He sees because He loves, and therefore loves although He sees” (A Grief Observed, p.84)

What do those words stir inside of you as you read them?

Fear? Disbelief? Hope? Or maybe some feeling altogether different.

For me, all three emotions were provoked.

Fear. Being “seen” can often be an unnerving experience because it’s so revealing. Think about it: When was the last time you were seen, I mean really seen for being who you really are? For most of us, that exposure comes at the worst possible time–after we’ve messed up and got caught. How did that go? Totally exposed? Feeling naked with no where to hide?

Just ask the woman entrapped in adultery and thrown in front of Jesus to be judged (John 8:3-11). She expected condemnation, knowing that even death was a real possibility at the hands of her accusers. She knew what she’d been doing was wrong. Nevertheless, being seen and exposed to all (in an open public courtyard) had to leave her feeling ashamed, vulnerable and terrified of what was coming next.

Disbelief. Could it be true? Really? Could I be totally exposed, my flaws revealed and still be loved? My friend, Larry Crabb once shared that for the vast majority of us it was a rare thing to experience “being seen at our worst in the presence of love.” But that’s what grace is all about.

Total exposure usually brings only shame, ridicule, disdain and judgment. But what Jesus offered this vulnerable woman (and us) was radically unexpected: The eyes of truth and a heart of gracious love. He turned the tables on her accusers who weren’t concerned about her at all and then refused to condemn her, even though he clearly saw her sins. Instead, He invited her to leave her sinful lifestyle and step up into a new kind of life that only He could offer.

Hope. Being exposed and not wiped out because of our sin is the scandalous gift of love that God offers to everyone of us without exception, no matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done. That’s what Jesus offered this woman entrapped by accusers and enslaved by her sin. He looked, He saw, and He fully loved her (John 8:11).

And that’s what Jesus offers to each of us–The Hope of being completely seen–warts and all–and  being deeply embraced with the lavish love of God (1 John 3:1). That’s the transformational love of God that is beyond even our wildest dreams.

And the best part about it . . . it’s really true! And it has the power to change us, starting on the inside and working it’s way out.

So, what was it like the last time you were really seen? How did it end? Has there been a time in your life when you’ve tasted the lavishness of God’s loving embrace after you were seen in a not-so-flattering light? Your stories are encouraging to others who fear being seen and loved.

Thanks for sharing.

Tim Jackson

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Tim Jackson is married to his college sweetheart, Cole. They have 3 adult children. Tim is the producer for the website, writes Discover Series booklets on a variety of counseling issues and hosts webinars for RBC Ministries. He's also the founder and president of Still Waters Counseling & Equipping Ministries, PC, a local counseling practice serving individuals, couples and families. When not in the office, you will probably find him up a tree with a bow, in a duck blind or fly fishing on one of Michigan's many rivers.

5 responses to Seeing & Still Loving

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  2. Stephanie Coker January 6, 2013 at 8:33 am

    As you speak of being seen for who you really are, it brings home a very real pain for me. I’ll be brief since I don’t want to indulge in self-pity…that’s not what this comment is about. I just want us all to think as Believers, followers of Christ, about the way we need to view others–the challenged, the “unlovely”, those who are in any way different than us.

    The church my husband of almost 35 years and I have been members of for 15 years has been very hard for me to feel welcome. I say that because it’s likely that if I’m feeling that way, then there are others like me who are also feeling that way, i.e. I’m not being singled out. It took ten years to finally get into a small group, (really?! TEN YEARS?!) And now …let’s just say some major issues involving immaturity are happening with a current group. If it’s personality differences, as members of the Body of Christ, we need to be so over that and accept one another in the Beloved. A friend I’ve known since the early ’70’s who she and her husband have been involved in very dangerous mission work has responded to some of my issues with the statement that the U.S. church is in bad shape. She stated that most Christians would rather live out their materialistic lives here with babies and grandbabies than to see Christ return…serious indictment. Obviously she doesn’t believe all are that way. There are caring small groups that accept all kinds and build one another up in the faith.

    But, this is so crucial for me because I’m discovering sadly that I think my husband is a nominal Christian, but I’m not sure. He doesn’t desire genuine, authentic, hold-me-accountable Christian fellowship, the kind you can’t get from the church service. He said quite matter-of-factly that it was up to me what I did about this current small group, but maybe I should withdraw and not attempt to find another until after we move (this move may not happen until a YEAR–HELLO?!). Who here believes they can abide in Christ with no Christian fellowship for a year? I need prayer. Thanks.

  3. Stephanie,
    You’ve raised 2 major issues that are common to many. First, longing to fit in, to connect with others who are a part of the family of God and are encouraging to one another in their walk with Jesus, and second, the struggle with a spouse who is in a very different place than you are. This would be good opportunity for you to explore with your husband what his idea of connection and growth in the body of Christ is all about. It also may be something that your small group needs to explore together. Some small groups atrophy over time. They can become kind of nice social groups were everyone is comfortable with each other and where they’re at. Shaking up the discussion is something that is often needed for group to refocus and be reminded about their purpose for meeting. Check out Larry Crabb’s book “Connecting” for some good suggestions for jump starting your small group.

  4. My husband has been exposed for being involved in an emotional affair with another woman and a long running fantasy affair with a sexy model on his computer.

    I feel absolutely destroyed and shamed, after trying so hard to meet all his needs, he rejected me and turned to these other women.

    I had laid out my pain, my hurts, and my feelings with him in a prayer. I know his guilt and shame were hard to bear. My pain is a consequence of his actions, and he knows that. But as I turned to the computer and found this article, I realized he needed to know in his sin, his worst moments, and his exposure, God still sees him and loves him.

    I invited him to come read the article, so he would know that no matter how hurt and angry I am, God still loves him. It doesn’t make me feel any better, but I hope it can offer him a glimpse of God’s love in the healing process that he needs to go through with the counselor he is seeing.

    Thank you for the article.

  5. K. Lee,

    Betrayal by a spouse is so painful. It’s one of the few times when the sin of another reeks such havoc on a woman’s heart. Even though you didn’t cause your husband’s choice, you feel the brunt of the lie that somehow you were not enough for him. That’s a lie perpetrated by the Evil One against your feminine heart. Don’t believe it. Embrace the truth that you too are deeply loved by Jesus more than you could ever imagine. That’s the healing truth that begins to mend the wounds of every wounded heart–including yours and your husband’s.

    Check out our booklets on these topics: When A Spouse Is Unfaithful and When A Man’s Eye Wanders. I think you both will find them helpful as you are rebuilding the trust that’s been broken between you.

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