Of all of the things that we think to ask Jesus for, the things that we know our hearts ache for, there's one that He gives us without our asking. Mostly because it's one of those things that's hard for us to nail down exactly what we're feeling, but once He answers, we realize we knew it all along.
It's the gift of being seen.
As I ponder this idea, I'm thinking of two women in the Gospels in particular.
The first is the Syrophoenician woman who comes to Jesus to ask Him to heal her daughter. She is a foreigner, an outsider, and she comes to Jesus in a very "insider" place, and He responds as those around Him expect Him to respond - He tells the woman that the best thing of God are for the children of God (those who were listening in and who had been rudely interrupted by the mere presence of a Syrophoenician woman - in their minds).
This woman then begs Him, claiming, "Even the dogs get to eat the scraps under the children's table."
Then, Jesus commends her faith and heals her daughter.
The second woman I'm thinking of is the woman at the well, who John introduces us to. She is a woman who is trying not to be seen. She has rearranged her entire schedule to go draw water at the hottest part of the day precisely because she doesn't want anyone to see her and start talking to her. She has a reputation, a history, a past. And frankly, she's tired of hearing about it. She's tired of being the fodder for all the town's gossip.
Then, Jesus comes and asks her for a drink and tenderly brings up the truth about her messy life, and suddenly, she's running off into town, wildly and happily proclaiming that she's met someone who told her everything she ever did. Were it not for her excitement and happiness over this, the townspeople would likely have been wholly unimpressed. After all, most of them (if not all of them) could also tell her everything she ever did. It's not like it was a secret.
Why does it excite her so much when Jesus does it? Because He's not talking about her; He's talking to her. He sees her.
So here we have two women - an outsider in a very insider place, and a woman who put herself on the outside on purpose - and both of them receive this incredible gift from Jesus that is exactly what they need: they are seen by Him.
Seen. Acknowledged. Spoken to. Called by name. Eye contact. A sacred moment pulled out just for them. Right in front of everybody.
Who would ever pay attention to a Syrophoenician woman? Or a woman with a reputation?
Jesus, that's who.