Looking but not Seeing.

As I mentioned, day four was rough.

As Marsh took Finn and sent me our room to take a nap that afternoon, I was so thankful, and yet I could not fall asleep. The tears just kept tumbling down my cheeks as my chest heaved; I was entirely exhausted, but rest evaded me. And so I sent a quick text to a few women, cherished individuals, who know the foundations of me.

For 8 years, these women and I wove our lives together on Tuesday nights, beginning in the season just post-college, then dating, newly married, and starting our families.  Tucker, the first baby in the bunch, even arrived on a Tuesday evening, and these girls didn’t miss a beat. They all crowded in that hospital room and snuggled this new little life and prayed and laughed and I am pretty sure brought something yummy to eat because we eat really well together.  We now are scattered all over the greater Seattle-area and with 11 kids under 8, we no longer meet weekly. But our hearts are no less tied. We trade texts on hard mom-ing days and in dark hours of the night to confess our perceived failures and ask for encouragement. We remind each other that we are not crazy, and that we are indeed valued and gifted and that we are not alone. We remember each other when we were strong and independent and encourage each other to be stronger now that so many are dependent upon us.

And so in that moment of exhausted tears and quivering heart, I asked them to pray.

As I buried my head in my pillow again, the scripture came… you can read about that here… but in some ways, the fulfillment of God providing hope for me that day came in concert with asking for help.

You see, one of my most treasured friends — the woman who taught me what accountability really looked like, who braved speaking into my life about hard things in my rawest season and most trying time, who remained faithful despite life seasons and stages separating us — showed up that night. Despite two little ladies of her own and living on the other side of Seattle, she responded to my plea for prayer with a call to action. {Oddly enough, that same night fourteen years ago, she covertly checked into a hotel room in New Hampshire with my amazing mama, planning to surprise me the next morning for my 21st birthday with a weekend adventure to Boston… I have never been more surprised in my life.}

So when my dear friend graced my home with flowers and treats and settled into my couch to just be present with me to process and cry and share our stories, I received it as it was: a gift and answer to prayer. The words she shared that night of her own trial over the past few weeks was yet another deposit from God, providing a trajectory shift for my own heart that I did not know I needed…

Just weeks before, her sweet and precocious older daughter had swiped a glass of water from her bedside table. She ventured into the bathroom when little sis’ toddled in and decided she needed a sip. They don’t ask at that age; they grab. So no surprise that a struggle ensued, the glass shattered, little one fell and a mama’s worst nightmare unfolded. Big sis’ ran upstairs and proclaimed that little sis’ “face is broken!” Upon rushing downstairs, my friend recounted that her sweet little one’s cheek was indeed a gaping hole. A trip to the incredible Children’s Hospital, plastic surgeons and 19 stitches later, her baby girl was repaired, but with a wound that would travel with her for life.  At this point, with glassy eyes, my friend shared, ” I couldn’t see her…  All I could see was this raised red scar…this uninvited interruption of my daughter’s beautiful porcelain face… how would it affect her? Would it ever fade?” For weeks, this was the case. Looking but not seeing.

And she continued on to say that just days before, she looked up from her daughters face and realizing that her focus had shifted,  she whispered to her husband, “I can see her again.”

Something stirred in my heart, both of us teary at this point. And it occurred to me that for days, I had been staring at Finn, scouring his body, his eyes, his face, but I was looking for dark red marks, looking for how they might have changed or grown, searching for what they could mean, but I hadn’t been seeing him.

I was looking, but not seeing.

In sharing her story, my dear friend who time and time again has spoken truth and encouragement into my heart over the 14 years we have known one another, infused life and new vision in me for my newborn son.


And that night, I stared at Finn, not at his skin or his sweet little eyes, but INTO them. And I SAW him, this sweet, strong, resilient little boy, and he stared back at me with those huge eyes of his, so alert, so full of life.

And I wept tears of joy and gratitude…and hope.

It made me wonder how often I have looked in the right direction – at my spouse, at my kids, at my friends… at God – and yet have not seen what I should be seeing. My vision was obscured, or too shallow or too self-seeking. And missed THEM. I missed the heart of what I was looking at.

God has this name in the bible…”El Roi”, meaning “the God who sees me”. It is among my favorite of the names He is given. And I believe he is giving me new sight, new eyes, His eyes to see.

Marshall and I prayed that night for supernatural rest.  I actually got 5 hours of sleep {not consecutively of course} and I woke up the next morning, hormones in balance, full of peace and joy and feeling a little like myself again.

And it was my birthday. A birthday less about me than it has ever been, but I think it will rank among my favorites thus far.

2 thoughts on “Looking but not Seeing.

  1. Emily, I tear up every time I read your words, how you share your life — way out into the world — how you are being stretched and continue to grow. Praying for you, asking God to fill you with his presence. His peace, your peace. Oh to see deeper. What a gift for me, too. Much love to you all. Sara


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