The Overflow! where souls are filled and faith is spilled

The Difference Between Watching and Seeing

Welcome to the Overflow!  Whether you’re an old friend or a new one, I hope you’ll linger here where faith is spilled and souls are filled. If you like what you find and you’d welcome a trickle of inspiration in your inbox now and then, feel free to subscribe to my blog and I’ll send you a splash of encouragement every once in a while. (You’ll find a subscription box on the top right sidebar on my home page.) Or, if you’d rather, we can stay connected on Facebook or Twitter.

Of course, my favorite way to connect is the old fashioned way—face to face so I can see your smile.  I’m scheduling speaking engagements for the 2017/2018 school year, and I’d be delighted to bring a message of encouragement to a ministry event near you! (Contact me at if you’d like to explore the possibility of partnering in ministry in the year to come.)

Speaking of encouragement, I’m over at Proverbs 31  today telling a tale about a street corner, a woman with a cardboard sign, and the power of being seen. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, you can find it here. But before you go, I’d love to tell you what I’ve been learning about paying attention and partnering with Jesus. 

See me, Mommy! See me!” Her sing-song voice mingled with the sunbeams and floated through the hot summer air. Her stubby little legs stood bravely at the top of the brightly-colored play equipment and she squatted low as she prepared to soar down the bumpy purple slide.

I acknowledged my toddler with a wave from my station at the bottom of the slide. Then, I  gave her an exaggerated nod and pointed to my wide-open eyes, so she would know I was watching.

“I see you,” I said as I stretched out my arms in ready-position to catch my youngest one’s flying frame.

The child at the top of the slide wasn’t the first to demand my eyes. Having had four toddlers before this strong-spirited last-born, I’d had plenty of practice in the fine art of fixing my sights on little ones.

In fact, as soon as my kids began to talk, they all seemed to acquire a love for that small phrase that beckoned my gaze and begged for my praise:”Watch me!”

“Mommy, watch me!” my sons would holler as they raced like lightning across the yard or proudly pedaled their training-wheeled bikes down the driveway.

“Mommy, watch me!” my daughters would plead as they twirled in pirouettes around the room or somersaulted across the lawn.

“Mommy, watch me!” my daredevils would cry as they dangled from the monkey bars, shimmied up a tree limb or leaped from the couch with arms spread wide.

But our last and littlest girl didn’t echo her siblings’ lingo.

She didn’t just want me to watch; she wanted me to see.

See me, Mommy!” she would shout in a tone that carried both invitation and declaration all at the same time. “See me!”

In that sleep-deprived, please-help-me-to-survive season of motherhood when five kids clamored for my attention every moment of every day, I would have argued that my youngest one’s quirky plea was no different than that of the others’. And that her unusual choice of words was a mere matter of linguistics.

See me, Mommy! See me.

But looking back on it now, I think my daughter knew exactly what she was asking.

She wasn’t just asking to be noticed. She wanted to be acknowledged. She wasn’t just asking for my eyes; she wanted my heart.

This “see me” girl is the baby of five, planted in a house swelling with chaos and noise. And when this youngest one of mine could finally put voice to her wishes, she didn’t just want me to stare; she wanted me to be aware.

I may not have understood it then, but I know now that there is a distinct difference between watching and seeing.

We may be able to watch without engaging our hearts but we cannot truly see without engaging our souls.

If I merely look at you, I may notice what you are, but if I choose to truly see you, I must acknowledge who you are.

Jesus knew this. And I want to remember it, too.

To really see someone means I’m not just offering a glance; I’m extending a gift—

The gift of my time and my attention, the gift of my consideration and my care.

The poet Mary Oliver may have said it– “To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work“–

But our Savior actually lived it.

While Jesus walked the dust of earth, He attended to people with the heart of Heaven.

Jesus didn’t just watch people, He saw people.

When the crowd looked at the filthy beggar alongside the road, they noticed a blind man who was causing a ruckus. But when Jesus gazed at the same man, He saw a child of God who was full of faith and longed to see (Mark 10:46-48).

When the townspeople looked at the Samaritan woman, they saw a harlot. But when Jesus encountered the same woman at the well, He saw a broken daughter who was thirsty for abundant life (John 4)

When the disciples saw the children clamoring for Christ’s attention, they saw an interruption. But Jesus saw those to whom the Kingdom of Heaven belonged (Matthew 19:14).

Jesus understood the difference between looking and loving, between watching and seeing. 

And I desperately want to as well.

But I’ll admit, it’s not natural. It’s not easy. I am quick to look yet slow to see; and so often I find myself peering through my eyes rather than gazing through Heaven’s heart. And when I look through my own lens, I fail to notice the insecure heart in that whining child; the eager hope in that needy friend, the fledgling faith in that angry teen.  When I peer through my own faulty perspective, I look instead of love. I watch instead of see.

So each day I’m crying out like that blind man along the road: “Jesus, I want to see!”

I say it when I wake up, and I repeat it countless times as I move throughout my day.

And do you know what? I’m discovering that the simplest way to fix my feeble eyes is to fix my eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:12).

And as His grace changes my gaze, I see His children in a new light.

And little by little, I find myself saying yes to joining Him in “the endless and proper work of paying attention.”

Ok friends, so I’ve been asking Jesus for new eyes lately. How about you? What are you asking of Jesus right now? Leave us a comment and we’ll join you in prayer. 





9 thoughts on “The Difference Between Watching and Seeing

  1. Cindy

    To see this adopted child that I have not been able to bond with.
    To see a light at the end of a never-ending tunnel.
    Loved your devotion, thank you.

    August 17, 2017 at 5:16 am
    1. Alicia Bruxvoort

      Oh, Cindy, my heart is aching with you, and I am, indeed, praying that Jesus will give you fresh vision for this adopted child He’s entrusted into your care; I’m asking that He’ll give you hope in the midst of this long, hard journey of love. And I’m praying for a miracle— for our faithful Father to bond your hearts in the way only He can. Thank you for being honest and real. I’m praying.

      August 20, 2017 at 7:52 pm
  2. Susan

    To see more clearly the “Joy of my salvation” and walk in it. To see myself as Jesus does. To see hope in what seems to be a hopeless marriage situation. To see thankfulness in the little and big things.
    Thanks – I needed some soul filling words today!

    August 17, 2017 at 9:28 am
    1. Alicia Bruxvoort

      Susan, may Jesus give you a glimpse through His eyes today, so you can see clearly the joy of your salvation and see hope where there seems to be none. I’m praying, too, that as you gaze through our Savior’s lens of love, you’ll see the beautiful woman He sees when He looks at you. Thanks for inviting me to pray with you and for you.

      August 20, 2017 at 7:49 pm
  3. lc

    To know and experience and live in His love
    Love comes before faith, I recently learned.
    To trust Him, because trust comes before peace and rest.
    I need hope.
    Thank you for your encouraging words and heart.🤗

    August 17, 2017 at 4:54 pm
    1. Alicia Bruxvoort

      lc, I am praying that Jesus will be your hope and that you will know His love in a tangible and irrefutable way this week. Praying that even “a mustard seed of faith” in your heart will be enough to grow in you a GIANT TRUST in Him.

      August 20, 2017 at 7:45 pm
  4. Tricia

    To pray more fervently for my children and my foster daughter who is back with family. I am searching for God’s will to be done, not mine. Thank you so much for your hope today

    August 18, 2017 at 5:48 am
    1. Alicia Bruxvoort

      Tricia, I am joining you in your prayer for your foster daughter… asking for God to work out His perfect plan for her and to tend to BOTH of your hearts in the process. It’s SO HARD to love and let go and trust. You are brave! And God is with you.

      August 20, 2017 at 7:41 pm
  5. CSC

    Good Morning Alicia! Thank you for sharing this message! I get a little bogged down at times when concerns flood my heart. I want to see God and know His love so that I can see others and share His love with them.

    September 11, 2017 at 4:52 am

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