Seeing the Face of God
This semester I am taking my three psychology elective courses (among other classes of course!). One if them is called Peacemaking. It was basically the class that most conveniently fit my schedule. Little did I realize how much the content would apply to daily life as well as my future profession.
We've been assigned reading already. The first of our six texts is to be read by Wednesday. I can't recall enjoying an assigned reading this much in a long time. It's not an enjoyment that is all smiles and sunshine, but one of those where your life intersects the margins- your gut twinges and your heart sinks at the beginning steps. It is here that I know the next few months are going to be beneficial, with whatever all that may entail. I'm terrified but so grateful at the opportunity to learn from a class in this way.
The book I'm reading starts with the story about Jacob and Esau. If you don't know the story of those two brothers, flip to Genesis to read for yourself. Without giving the story away, there is a scene where Jacob wrestles all night with something/someone (literally) and he sees the face of God. As he heads out in the morning to face Esau, he is overwhelmed by Esau's response. As Jacob looks upon his brother's face, he again sees the face of God.
I've thought a lot about that. As different journeys have unfolded in my life the last few months, I have at various times wrestled literally all night with different thoughts. But I find that in more ways than I understood before, I can see the face of God. I guess this isn't necessarily a moment of understanding but more of a glimpse of who God is and at sometimes, a reminder of who God is not. Tonight as I was reading for class and then another book I'm working on for our Ladies Bible study this semester, it dawned on me how many times I have seen the face of God this week.
My mom left on Wednesday to go back home. For the first time in a long time I cried at the thought of her leaving. Something that I have struggled with, but noticed more in the last few months, is not feeling much of anything or ties to anyone. Growing up an avid summer camper, a swimmer who would travel and compete alone, I didn't like always having that lump in my throat when goodbyes came. Slowly it became easier and easier- to the point where I wasn't sad to leave my family or friends either at home or at school. It was okay for a while, but then it started to scare me. C.S. Lewis has a quote about how loving involves being vulnerable. Being sad and hurt scares me. But like Lewis says, if you're afraid to take that risk, you end up hardening and locking your heart in a chest where it can't ever break...and that is a dangerous and lonely place to be. I was beginning to realize that.
That morning I was overwhelmed with emotions and finally brought up something to her that we needed to talk about. Only, I did it 30 minutes before she needed to catch her flight. Gripped with fear, I spoke anyways between sobs and tears. Was everything resolved? No. But the vulnerability of sharing my heart with her was liberating. She and I are close, but not like we would like to be. Although she was about to head through security, we stood there and hugged amidst the flood of anger, sadness, relief, and love and just cried and said goodbye. The rest of the morning I could still feel that lump in my throat and continued to just let the tears fall. And you know what? That is okay. Because there at the airport I saw the face of God.
The next morning I read a blog by my friend Trenton. It is linked on the side of my page if you would like to see it too. He probably doesn't even realize it, but that lump in my throat conviction returned. It seemed like one more thing that was showing me that the walls have to come down. We can think we are being honest and real with people, and maybe we are, but how far are we willing to let them see us? Our thoughts? Our feelings? What message is this conveying to your Christian brothers and sisters? What does it convey to the world? I'm beginning to see that our inability to be vulnerable is more destructive than we realize...on the outside, but for this post's purpose, on the inside too. Peace cannot thrive in the absence of vulnerability and truth. There are risks, yes, but proceeding with wisdom (another difficult thing to gauge) is possible and necessary to pursue peace. That morning I saw the face of God.
I sat in Kara's couch and we visited like we always do. Only this time (actually, a couple this week) there were tears too. As she sat and listened, I saw the face of God. I ran with Jaclyn Monday morning before a lot of this really hit me and in her kindness I saw the face of God. Then I ran into my friend Kendyl who shared her beautiful heart with me. Later on this week they each reminded through their words and notes to Trust in The Lord with all of my heart. Tonight my friend Sam listened and let me cry. She shared her hankerchief (by the way, I think it's precious some people still use those) and as she prayed, I saw the face of God.
As I reflect I am amazed. It is truly awesome in the "Willis sense of the word" to know that as we wrestle God is there. Do I doubt this at times? Yes. Have I been questioning God? Yes. Do still I feel confused? Yes. Am I hurting? Yes. Do I know the next steps to take? No. Do I know what I want? No. But in all if this I have seen how living and active God is. His face is enough. He is in how my grandmother held me and stroked my hair while I said all these doubts out loud and again when I walked in on her praying one afternoon. He is in the courage to speak to my mom and her courage to speak back. He is in my friends who encourage me and each other- saying what their hearts prompt them, likely not knowing how those words will be used. He is in each new day where the things we learn Sunday morning fit with life Sunday afternoon and the reading done before a Sunday nap fits the section of the journey to be traveled tomorrow. He is in the sun- the fact that it still rises despite all that will happen that day throughout the world and as the light that dispels darkness physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Jacob and Esau had a long journey. We don't even know how long it spanned over. The ending isn't even the happily ever after that Hollywood would like. But, God led them to reconciliation. And they saw the face of God.
With the start of another semester and for some of y'all just another work week, I want to ask you to be prayerful in all things. It's easy to say, but difficult to actually do. Don't ask for specific things, but approach prayer asking that God would show you His face.
We sang a song this morning where a line goes somethng like this (don't count on the deaf girl to know the words perfectly) "as we look upon His face, see His mercy and His grace..." I like those words. Timely. But I also think there is something to the face of God being in other people. We try to come to peace with ourselves and find God through an escape, whether that be vacation or The Quiet Place on campus. Believe me, this is important and necessary. However, we forget sometimes that God made us in His image. Where else should we look then to see glimpses of His face?