I’ve been pressing in to God, I’ve been pressing into my healing. The Lord has put El Roi on my heart. So much so that, I am stuck on it in my devotional. The Names of God by Ann Spangler is a great read and even better tool, if you are looking for one.
As with everything, I love to learn the practical applications for the spiritual lessons God teaches me. There is another book called Waking the Tiger. It teaches about trauma from a physiological standpoint as well as psychological.
The belief is that, trauma is an energy stored within our bodies. Every traumatic event has a cycle and we were unable to complete it so, we stored all the information within ourselves. Our bodies choose a freeze survival response (instead of fight or flight). In order to heal, we must go back and release that energy to complete the cycle. This makes a lot of sense.
It is only when the experiences are interrupted (frozen) and the information stored that they become traumatic. This is what gives our “triggers” such power. They initiate the cycle.
What I’ve learned about triggers is this, trauma is stored state specifically. This means, exactly as it is at the time it occured is exactly how it will be when you are triggered back into that situation. Now, when not directly triggered, this state specific-ness can affect quite a bit still. This is because the energy is still there. Was it a fall and now you avoid heights or railings? Was it a near drowning and now showers are all you choose? Was it something that happened when you were little? Was it abuse or neglect? Did it make you feel unloved and unimportant? Do you still carry these feelings around? When you think about your trauma, the age you were, do you still (at least sometimes) feel like you are that age again?
Apparently, feeling you are close to the age that your trauma occured at is normal…. see, STATE specific. I had several different experiences that my body chose to store, extending over two decades. Everything, everyday can potentially be a trigger for me.
Since realizing the age relation, I noticed that I have felt several different ages. It makes sense. My body has to finish those cycles. My age depends on the topic… Obviously, this can make things difficult at times. Childhood trauma is sometimes referred to as complex trauma (PTSD) because of issues just like this.
This makes me understand why I feel so conflicted at times, why I feel small and inadequate. It also makes me understand why sometimes God seems inaccessible and BIG.
God brought both of these books together beautifully for me.
El Roi is mentioned only once in the Bible. It is in the Old Testament. In Genesis 16, Hagar, a female slave of Sarai’s is given to Abram and bears a son. She begins to hold Sarai in contempt. Sarai responds by “dealing with her harshly”…. she beats her. Now, this could be a traumatic event. All Hagar did was have a bad attitude, does that justify her beating? Not to mention, Hagar had to actually marry Abram in order to have his baby. So, she was a slave then a wife but, when Sarai becomes angry with her, she is once again demoted to a slave (even if only in Hagar’s mind). She is pregnant. Being beat while pregnant adds another side to this quickly escalating situation. (Unborn children can experience trauma the same as anyone else).
Hagar runs away. So she chooses flight. Into the desert…. where she quickly learns she will probably not survive. She places herself near a well, all out of options. I can see trauma written all over this. I can see this woman, faced with irrational people and situations; responding irrationally, and trapped. Trapped in a desert. Trapped by a well and trapped within herself.
The desert is symbolic of a trial, a test, growth and learning. A well can be a symbol of salvation, of indwelling and filling up. It makes absolute sense that this is where God would meet her.
God asks her a question. Doesn’t He always? He says, “Where did you come from and where are you going?” I know I can’t answer that question half the time. I imagine God meant so much more by that question than simply: where are you?
Hagar’s response? “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” That’s just where she came from. My guess, she had zero idea where she was going or, she thought the well was it. Either way, she gave him the answer that mattered. It showed where her heart was, still focused on Sarai and her treatment. Maybe she hoped to elicit some pity or maybe it was just unconscious.
God then told her to RETURN to Sarai and submit to her. He promised that her offspring would be multiplied so that they couldn’t be numbered.
So, this was a if, then statement. If she did as she was told then, the Lord would carry out his promise. This is a difficult passage for me. I have abusers and I don’t know that I could humble myself to much less, submit to them.
The conversation was relatively short. There were no minced words.I don’t believe God was harsh or angry with her. As a parent teaches their child to dust themselves off and try again, God was helping Hagar move through her emotions and past herself. I believe He spoke in equal amounts of compassion and authority. God saw her side but, He saw the whole picture as well.
Next : (verses 11 & 12) And the angel of the Lord said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction. He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”
God was validating her. He was saying, you matter; your child matters. I saw what happened and you have nothing to fear. You have nothing to be angry or bitter about. These are MY plans and no one can change them.
He didn’t expect her to just accept a wait and see or a “because I said so” parent reaponse. He met her fears, her anger and her pain dead on. He set her straight: go home. Then, He eased her soul: I already have it worked out, only trust me.
Hagar’s response? 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
Hagar named YAWEH, who had been speaking to her. “You are El Roi.” She said, “This is the place where I watched the one who watches over me.” Genesis 16:13 NOG
El Roi, the God who sees me, the God who watches over me. God saw Hagar. He saw everything about her. He saw her past as a slave, all that had been. He saw her current problems. He saw her emotions, those from her situation and maybe some brought up from her past. He saw Abram’s and Sarai’s responsibility in the situation. He saw Ishmael, growing in Hagar’s womb. He saw his future there as well. He saw the desert and the well.
He saw the good, the bad, the complicated. He saw her pride and her fear. He saw her love and her faith.
He was fully present and all knowing in that moment for her. His gentle rebuke and kind promise gave her the clearest view into a characteristic of God that wasn’t repeated ever again in the Bible. El Roi wasn’t singled out to anyone else… Just to a bitter slave woman, dying in the desert, desperately needing to know that somewhere, someone sees her. Her walk, everything she has battled, everything she has regretted and lost. She needed someone to see her strength and her resolve. Someone to say, Get Up! I believe in you! You are able. Nope, it’s not fun. Yes, you made some mistakes. Yes, they made mistakes too. Nope, it’s not fair but, get going. I have a plan and YOU are the one I trust it to.
The way it strikes me is this, I am twenty-six. When I am around my peers I feel fifteen, unqualified and inferior. When I am arguing with my husband I feel twelve, misunderstood and shut down. When talking about my sex life I feel about ten, insecure and violated and, when I talk to God, I feel like I’m five. Small and fragile.
Every single time I have heard from Him, He responds to me in this way, as if I’m a baby. His baby. Even before I ever knew the lies that my trauma had been telling me, even before I had grown up and gotten away from all the abuse, El Roi was with me.
It takes a tremendous amount of compassion to see someone, everything about them, exactly as they are in a moment of time and say “I’m here, let me be what it is you need. Let me mold my care of you to you and, exactly when your needs change is exactly when my care will change.”
As complex as our problems may seem, God’s watchful care of us is always sufficient. It just really spoke to my heart. It gave me such peace.
El Roi, the one who sees, sees everything. The one who watches, always watches. There will never be a moment that I will be alone in this life. In the vibrant twisting and turning and ever changing lanscape of my heart, he is there. He is constant. There will never be a desert season that God will not have the right answer for me. When life questions me, I just need to answer honestly from where I am. My answer won’t turn away his help.
In the moments I feel myself shift in and out of moods and mindsets that man is barely beginning to understand, He is already there. He is patient, he is gentle, He is El Roi and he watches over me, always.
He sees you too friend,