I met several wonderful women at a Ministry Wives Retreat a couple of years ago. I wasn’t the worship leader or the speaker this time, but just set up a table with some resources from our ministry along with a bowl of – chocolate, the love language of women everywhere.
God gave me a kiss that day as I got to meet these ladies who serve their churches and their communities with their husbands. Some shared a little of their story with me; some just a smile. But God had required of me to see and listen to these women. Whoever He put in my path, whoever came up to my table, was to be looked at in the eye, receive a genuine smile and a warm embrace. I wanted, no Hewanted them to know that they were seen and heard and loved.
These ladies were wives of ministry church leaders. Their husbands served on a church staff in various positions. Most of them, safe to say, served smaller congregations; I would bet a lot of their husbands were bi-vocational, working a full time job along with their ministry responsibilities. Most of these women worked full time as well.
This retreat was organized by a friend of mine, who serves with her husband in a large church in metro Atlanta. Her heart has always been to encourage other ministers’ wives. She gets them. She puts on a great weekend for these ladies; time away for them to be ministered to, time for worship, with special speakers, break out sessions, a little market place, spa services and more.
I have always loved her heart for these women. These women who are mostly in smaller rural areas of our state don’t have access to this special treatment and are so deserving of it and hungry for it.
I loved watching them mill around the room drinking up the warm fellowship. That alone, was well worth the trip. Being a minister’s wife can make for an isolated life. Who knows the daily struggles and burdens and joys better than another sister who walks the same road?
I loved seeing them line up for their neck and shoulder massages or walk out beaming with a new hairstyle, or gathering in the prayer room to pray together.
You know that prompting you get when God says – “Look at this, take notice. I see these women in all their beauty, their frustrations, their fears, their hopes, their unanswered prayers, their longings for their marriages, their children, all of it, and I want them to know I see them.”
Holy moments .
Remember in Genesis 16 when Hagar, who after having done what her mistress had asked of her, found herself used and abused and fleeing to the desert? But God found herby a spring of water in the wilderness. He spoke to her, he asked her where was she coming from and where was she going. God told her that her unborn son would become a nation. And He instructed her to go back and submit to her mistress.
She knew God in a new way that day, by a new name. He revealed himself to her as as the God who sees, El Roi, as the One who looks after her.
That encounter with God gave her strength to go back to Abram and Sarai.
Sometimes we need to know God sees us, that he looks after us.
These women, who give their lives to serve their families, their churches, their communities, their employers, needed that.
Though they live visible to many eyes, they can feel like no one really sees them.
Do you feel unseen?
Perhaps these thoughts run through your head from time to time:
No matter how much I do, it’s never enough. Does anyone ever notice?
I am physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted.
I really believe God called me to this, but where’s the joy?
How can these people be so mean?
If anyone really knew what I struggle with, what goes on in our family, they wouldn’t want me here.
Is there a safe place where I can be real?
I am a minister’s wife. But I get to serve together with my husband and mostly on the road traveling from one church to another. He has been on staff at several churches over the years though so I have brushed shoulders with you, dear one. My heart has been heavy with you and for you as you desire to live fully in the moments of your ministry to your church and to your family.
This desire to be truly seen is something I believe, all women, all people, share.
God created us with that need and He desires for us to find it met, perfectly, in Him.
Whether you find yourself on the run to the wilderness, or already there, may you feel His compassionate eyes on you today and know Him as the One who sees you and takes care of you.
And then, after your intimate encounter with your El Roi, go back and have coffee with a sister who feels unseen. Share the chocolate kiss with a friend.
I’d love to hear from you.
“So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing,’ for she said, ‘Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.’ ” Genesis 16:13 (ESV)
Seen by Him,