As an adult I have learned some important life lessons. Some of my life lessons are lessons that I wish I didn’t have to learn; ladybugs aren’t poisonous when swallowed, drinking a sample bottle of Zyrtec won’t hurt a toddler and the smell of vomit is hard to get out of cars. One of the most important life lessons I learned was when I was about 11 or 12.
If I you caught a glimpse of her at the grocery store, you would of ducked your head and run as fast as you could in the opposite direction. She was that kind of woman. As a child, I remember peering through my window when I heard the crunch of gravel on our driveway. If it was her, I knew to hide in my room. Since my dad was a preacher, we had quite a few guests at our home. She was my least favorite. Her voice grated on my nerves. She always seemed to find something at fault with me or someone else in my family. My brother and I even had a nickname for her. It was not nice. I admired her husband though. He seemed so patient and kind. I thought he must have been a saint. Then came the day everything changed.
I heard the crunch of gravel on the driveway. I saw her car. I hid. I waited. I did my homework, played some music, read a book. She was there for a long time. Finally, I couldn’t hide anymore. Nature was calling and the only way to the bathroom was the room where she was sitting. I knew she would be siting in the “visitor” seat, telling my mom how to raise kids or my dad how to preach. Except she wasn’t…
Oh, she was sitting in the seat that I thought she would be sitting in. It just turns out she wasn’t the woman I thought she was. She had fear and shame in her eyes, not condemnation. Her voice wasn’t grating, it was sad. She had bruises and a flimsy excuse. “I fell.”
That was the day I learned that appearances lie. The man who honks the car horn may have just gotten laid off from work. The mom who yells at her kids might be deciding how she can pay for groceries now that her husband has left. The server who is rude might be a victim of sexual abuse. The lady you dislike might be a battered wife. We never know what is inside someone. Thankfully, the Lord does. The Lord sees.
In Genesis 16:13, Hagar calls God, “the God who sees.” God saw Hagar. He saw her being put in a position she probably didn’t want to be in. He saw her being mistreated. He saw her running away. He saw her hurting heart. Appearances may lie, but our hearts don’t. God sees inside us. He sees our hurts and he wants to heal them.
I am still working on that life lesson I learned as a child. Look inside. Look at the heart.