Every Christmas, I crown myself the unofficial 'Queen of Christmas' as I stand back and admire how thoughtful and perfect my chosen gifts have been for their recipients. To be honest, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes information being shared to try to ensure that my gifts will really be loved, and no one else is really in the running for the title because apparently, Christmas isn't a competition. Nonetheless, I greatly enjoy claiming this title, and briefly lord it over my imagined subjects before remembering what Christmas is all about and coming back down to earth.
This year, however, I'm removing my self-assigned crown and handing it over to my sister. We stopped giving gifts a few years ago, and now I get to express my love through gifts for my nieces, but she happened to draw my name for Secret Santa this year, and the crown is officially hers because she bought me Unseen.
I'm not exactly sure what I expected when I first unwrapped this book. The cover was beautiful, but something in the title* misled me, and I went off down a rabbit hole, expecting it to be a gentle reminder to be happy as a quiet and humble housewife and hidden servant of God. I half anticipated ending the book feeling guilt over my love of beautifully made clothing, and I definitely thought I was going to be deleting my Instagram account.
*This possibly reveals more about my own insecurities than about the title of the book.
Despite my misconceptions, I found myself drawn to this book and its fairy-light in a mason jar hipster cover, so I began to read it in mid-January. I was in the foreword when the first wave of crazy-person, messy-sobbing tears hit me. Sara hadn't even started yet. By the end of the first chapter, I think I'd cried about five or six times. And I'm really not a big crier (at least not usually, I did cry at church last night: I blame this book, it has broken me beautifully.)
Sara explores her journey of stepping back from an exciting ministry position into an unfulfilling retail job, and her later (and lengthy) battle with infertility in a world of women bearing babes. She shares the aloneness that brought, and the desperation that led her to seek out God in a whole new way. She began to waste time with him, something so against her nature, and let go of the endless need to earn his love and affection. She begean to learn to trade striving for his approval with sitting at his feet.
As Sara shares her experiences of adoption and the growth from an empty womb to a family of eight, she draws beautiful parallels with the story of Mary, who poured out her life-savings in perfume on the feet of Jesus. What a beautiful waste.
Sara explores the hidden times that God takes us into, and how her response of letting go of her ideals and performance-based expectations, and leaning only into his affection and attention, learning to be more like Mary, has reshaped her entire relationship with God.
She is no longer a slave, but a friend.
I can't say that I am able to understand the long-drawn-out process of adoption or the heartache that comes with loving a child who is living in unimaginable circumstances on the other side of the world. I have had a comparatively brief taste of the bitterness of infertility, but I cannot comprehend the pain of living out a monthly, heartwrenching disappointment for fifteen years. It isn't a deep sense of empathy or sympathy for Sara that brought me to a raw and deep place of release while reading this book. It was the overwhelming sense that despite not knowing who I am, Sara understood me. That God had orchestrated my reading this book, and that this beautiful woman had shared her life in such a way that it would speak so deeply into my life at this time of hiddenness. In each of her words, it was like God was saying I see you.
You don't need to be a mother to be rocked by this book. Spend some time elbow deep in washing up, or rewashing the same load of laundry you put on the day before, and this book will reach a deep cry of your soul to feel connectedness to God in those moments that seem not even to matter. Spend a few hours commuting to a job that pays the bills or provides for your family, and this book will have something for you. If you serve in your church, in any shape or form, this book will speak to your heart.
Skye is our Worship Coordinator, and is exploring the beautiful challenge of how to worship when you can't even play the triangle.