God Sees Me

I still remember the 9 hour plane ride to Scotland like it was yesterday. The size of the plane, the smell of the cabin air as I boarded...the weight of my backpack as I tried to find my seat (a girl’s gotta bring the “essentials” ya know lol). I know it may sound silly, but I was savoring every moment. This felt big...bigger than anything I could’ve orchestrated. How does a working mom of 3 littles get to just “hop across the pond” for 10 days? On paper, this trip looked crazy. On paper it should’ve fizzled out and been placed on the “back burner”. But somehow, God was opening doors for me and 15 women that we couldn’t have opened for ourselves.

I gazed down the aisle, made a b-line for my seat and with everything tucked neatly beneath me, took a deep breath. “This is really happening,” I thought….”this is really happening!” I wrestled with a some papers and a magazine (you know the ones the airline likes to disguise as “real” ones) but something in me just wouldn’t settle. I’m not a big fan of flying, and of course I was excited about the journey ahead but that wasn’t the restlessness nauging away.  Something deeper had begun to surface...something I thought I had buried a long time ago. “Maybe a song is stirring... maybe I just need to write” I thought. So I grabbed my phone to jot down a few phrases and play with some lines, but nothing came. Still something needed to get out. Finally, I just decided that the day deserved a commemorative letter to God. You know, something sweet saying “thanks for providing the funds and getting my rear in this plane seat” (well, hopefully something sweeter than that lol). But that’s not what came out. Instead, prayers I hadn’t prayed in a very long time came pouring out...

God, I don’t know what You’re doing here, but I need You to do something. I need to know that You see me. That you love me as much as I tell everyone else that You love them. I want to live and move and breath like I really believe that. Honestly, I don’t think I have. I feel like I’m just a nuisance to you and my prayers and wounds have gone unseen. Help me God. Are you bringing me on this trip to prove me wrong? God, please prove me wrong. I feel like You’ve forgotten me.

Fast forward towards the end of our trip and our group was preparing to visit the William Wallace Monument....the very Wallace that the movie “Braveheart” had depicted.  Now you need to know something about me. I LOVE Braveheart. I don’t mean “love” as in “O ya, I’ve seen it a few times and cried a few tears”...I mean I used to write every high school paper to that soundtrack. I can quote every line in the movie with my dad and my personal favorite? Finding 2,987 ways to use the story as a sermon illustration just in case someone  “happened” to need it. Basically, it’s my favorite. To say I was excited for this day would be an understatement. Little did I know God would use such an intimate detail about me to whisper, “I see you, beloved”.

Once at the monument, we learned we’d have to tread 246 steps to get to the top (not to mention the staircase is extremely narrow with people going up and down in both directions...wouldn’t recommend it for the claustrophobic). It’s a costly activity worth every grunt and drop of sweat...believe me, the view at the top is more than breathtaking! Once I reached it,  I was mesmerized, overcome really by all the green and light gray of the fog rising on the hills. “This is incredible God...just incredible. Thank You for this”. I soaked in the moment for as long as I could but then realized that I hadn’t seen anyone from our group in awhile. “I better book it” I thought as I started to hurry back. Just as I turned the corner, I ran into my new friend from the group, Emily. The both of us had chatted some and I really loved getting to know her...she had (and has) such a contagious joy and grace that just seemed to shine from her every smile. Needless to say, I was so excited we were getting to chat down the 264 steps! We talked about kids, travel and the trip in general but somewhere along the way, the conversation turned to music. In-fact, the conversation not only turned to music but specifically towards Emily's story of God's healing work in a long-time struggle with fear and using her own voice. We worked our way towards the gift shop and as she continued to share, I felt hot tears well up in my eyes. You know the kind you can’t hold back that are about to cause a big scene? Ya those. She asked (almost as if she knew the answer), “does any of this resonate with you?”. Friends, I could barely squeak out the words “yes” before a flood of emotions swept over me!  Everything, almost everything she had described felt like the battle I had been hiding for over a decade. The fear, the anxiety that had begun to manifest itself physically in my voice. My timidity and exhaustive striving to have others “approve” my singing (thinking that it would somehow release me from my feelings of “failure”). The comparison that had stolen so many precious hours and moments of joy. Yes. This was the constant narrative playing out in my head and I had come to accept that God was ok with it or just looked the other way.

What’s truly crazy about all of this is that no-one had known of my struggle except my husband. Sure, I had hinted at it here and there with a few friends but I was on staff at a church...leading worship. I was too embarrassed to be really honest about my issue. I needed to suck it up and move on. Let dreams die where they may and just learn how to live with myself...somehow, I thought God had felt the same way too. Or worse, that He just hadn’t thought much about it at all. So I buried it deep. The words spoken and failures lived...I piled fresh mounds of dirt on my wounds daily to make sure they stayed below the surface. And then, in this place...a monument built to celebrate freedom and the man who gave his life for it, God was proving that He wanted my freedom more than I wanted it for myself. With such a personal love for history and the story of William Wallace, God bent down to whisper my name, and the name of my shame, buried in the piles of dirt I had stacked up. That day, He told me He wanted to trade my burdens for joy and pain for healing. That day, He reminded me that He had seen every tear, every disappointment, every frustration, every compulsive behavior and every panic attack. There was nowhere I had gone unloved or unseen.  He told me I wasn’t annoying Him but instead, delighted Him. And of all the crazy, lavish, nonsensical, reckless things, He had taken me to Scotland to do it! This trip was the beginning of allowing Him to dig in where my wounds were and realizing He had wanted to do it all along. What an extravagant answer to the prayer I had typed on my phone. He DID see me!

So what does this mean for my life almost a year later? It means I’m learning how to be honest...with myself, my heavenly Father and other people.  It means I’m learning to admit my own needs and that God is just as present in the struggle as He is in the victory. It means I can lead with confidence because no matter my feelings of lack, He is more than enough and He alone validates my calling. It also means that on days I feel like He has forgotten about me, I can trust His heart is good and He will act on my behalf...revealing more spaces and places He wants to bring freedom to. Hallelujah, I am not forgotten!

For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy. He has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help.
— Psalm 22:4
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Rachael Thomas

Worship leader, songwriter, coffee enthusiast and wife to Jason and their 3 sweet nuggets...Camden, Harper and Raleigh.