As I’ve grown older, personally experiencing and witnessing the attacks that Satan launches against Christian families, my greatest struggles and failures are usually directly related to my self-image. Beginning in early childhood, women in our culture are beaten up with lies and misdirection about what makes a woman valuable, what a woman should be or not be, how we should think, act, dress, feel. The assault does not come only from “the world.” The most insidious propaganda of the devil often comes under the guise of practical advice from well-meaning Christian friends. As we read about women in the Bible, we see this struggle over and over again. As I prepared for this study, I realized that Hagar’s life epitomizes this struggle and reveals the only true answer very clearly—and she found that answer at a well. Over the past year, a group of women whom I’ve grown to love and trust deeply over the past year, has studied and meditated on the spiritual metaphor of Jesus as the living water and Christians as wells. During the year, as the Lord led me through the Old Testament, I was drawn to Hagar and the lesson in her moment at the well she named in honor of a divine moment, a God-inspired revelation about Hagar’s self-image struggle that is the same struggle we face. Hagar’s story cuts to the core of a truth that will change our lives when we fully embrace it: God sees me! He really sees the real me as He designed me to be–in His image. When we feel, like Hagar did, that we are mistreated, unimportant, alone, unworthy, lost, or hopeless–God sees us and He has a plan to prosper us and a deep desire to fulfill the desire of our hearts. Hagar’s response was to be amazed that God saw her—so much so that she names Him, “the God who sees me” and names the place “the well of the Living God who sees me.” Like Hagar, we ought to be amazed that the Creator of the Universe sees each one of us and knows each of us better than we know ourselves. I find myself asking a question very much like Hagar’s, one that is echoed in Psalm 8: “Who is man that Thou are mindful of him?” We might say it, “Who am I that You should see me?” Just seven words, but that question will be the heart of our lessons–just seven words, but, depending on which word we emphasize, multiple questions within one. Try it. Say that sentence aloud seven times and emphasize a different word each time: Who am I that God should see me? Who am I that God should see me? Who am I that God should see me? Who am I that God should see me? Who am I that God should see me? Who am I that God should see me? Who am I that God should see me? Who am I that God should see me? At our very core, I believe we are all asking that question, perhaps with a different emphasis than another woman; perhaps with a different emphasis at different points in our own lives. Over the last several years, I’ve been struck by the isolation and loneliness of Christian women. Many of us are separated from our family by distance; some of us are separated by broken relationships. Families who live close enough to see each other weekly or more often and who truly support one another are rare. If you are one of the few who have the physical nearness and love of an extended family, celebrate that blessing—you have a rare and precious support system. Not only are we as a whole plagued by distance between families, emotionally and physically, the American culture discourages interdependence, glorifying instead independence and self-reliance. Because of this lack of meaningful interaction between younger and older women, we have lost much, too much. The Biblical pattern counters this loneliness and isolation. In my own life and the lives of almost every woman whom I know, I have witnessed painful evidence that we need older, godly women to encourage us and share the wisdom of God as taught in His word and experienced in their lives, but very few of us have that blessing. We need to work together to build relationships which honor God’s command and plan that the older women teach the younger women. Whatever our age, we need both: older godly women to teach us and to be a godly encouragement and example to younger women. My prayer is that this blog will encourage, empower and enhance those kinds of relationships.