“My name was not in there. …see I am INVISIBLE!”
This is a modern day El Roi moment told by my old friend Julie. Go get your tissues. Here’s Julie…
The magazine I started was growing faster than I expected, and shortly before moving to Nebraska, I had our second child and I was attempting to hold it all together: stay at home mom and business owner. What I didn’t realize is that the business I owned gave me an identity that I loved and perhaps started to idolize.
I was beginning to get overwhelmed and I felt as if God was telling me, “Let the business go. Sell it.” I argued with this idea and worried I would loose my identity and passion. But I continued to feel this nudge as if He was saying to me, “Oh, I’ve got big plans for you, you have to trust me.”
Fast forward through a messy year of selling my business. As the dust began to settle I didn’t expect what would happened next. A major identity crisis, loneliness, and depression. I regretted giving up the business I was so very proud of. But I knew God was working something out in me, I just didn’t know what.
It was later that year that felt the nudge to pursue my love of writing and teaching. Maybe this was the “next thing” that God was hinting towards.
So what does a woman do when she wants to speak and write? Well, she attends a conference for speakers and writers right?
So I took the plunge and signed up for one of the biggest speaking and writing conferences in the country. Being in a room with 50 women makes me really nervous let alone 800 women and famous people.
Talk about feeling invisible.
“Oh holy crap! All these women want to be speakers and writers?”
“Seriously! God, what the heck? Why am I here?”
The anxiety started to set in as I had no clue how the world would hear my message when there are like millions of women who also have a message.
And oh the self-talk: “You are not supposed to be here…Nobody knows who you are… Why would they listen to you… You can’t stand out here. YOU ARE INVISIBLE!”
I wanted to go home.
But I stuck around. I wanted to learn some things. And I had gotten two appointments with some prominent publishers. And I actually had a book idea.
The nerves were killing me as I walked up to my first appointment. A stern woman scolded me for showing up early and told me I’d have to come back in 15 minutes.
There was only one place I could go while I waited in misery. This prayer room that I heard the speakers talking about… “Now go check out our prayer room. We’ve placed all your names in there on the different names of God and it will be fun to see where your’s ended up.” (said with a deep southern accent)
So I went to the prayer room. There was incense burning and a prayer monitor woman sitting in the corner and the lighting was dim. I just went straight over to the names. This would keep me busy, searching for my name among hundreds of names.
So I searched… and I searched. I saw names I recognized of the people speaking and teaching and even the publisher’s names.
“Wow, they thought of everyone.”
One problem. My name wasn’t in there. I looked again across the three long tables with hundreds of names and the many names of God. I moved confetti and candles and incense around.
My name was not in there.
“You see I am INVISIBLE!” I shouted and quickly got out of the Prayer Room Prison and proceeded to my publishers meeting… which I bombed. She kindly thanked me for my book idea and told me that she liked it, however it needed some more thought. “Come back to me in a year when you’ve started a blog on the subject and have your ideas a little more planned out.” I thanked her and left.
I just bombed a publishers meeting. This was one of my biggest fears. I just needed her to see me as an author, as someone capable of writing a book, and I sabotaged it with my nerves. I couldn’t get out what I really wanted to.
And then it hit me. “I just bombed a publishers meeting!!!”
Hold the phone, I just lived through one of my biggest fears. I braved some ultimate failure! Something started to shift in me.
I had one more publishers meeting coming up and I was not going to let myself feel like a victim. So what if I was invisible? So what if nobody here knows me or knows what I am capable of! I don’t really want to care about their opinions. I’m not doing this for them. I’m doing this for God.
But because I’m still a ball of nerves at this point I had to go somewhere and hide. So I went back to the Prayer Prison where all those names are locked up (except mine which is a free spirit that cannot be contained on a table with other names)… this time with a different perspective. Since my name wasn’t in here, I would instead pray for all these other names listed here. I would end this pity party and start caring about others more. I put my hands over all these names and prayed the name of God for them that they were listed under. When I got half way through the names, a wave of relief came over me and I felt like God was saying “Why did you take your eyes off of me? I never thought you were invisible! I told you I have a plan for you, and it’s good, trust me!”
It was in that moment, I suddenly didn’t care if a publisher liked my book idea or if they liked me. It didn’t matter because I was on God’s plan and His timing. If it’s time for a publisher to notice me, He’ll make it happen. And He can make that happen with or without this conference.
I continued to pray for all those names until I got to the last sheet of paper.
And there it was –my name! After all of this, there it was. And do you know what name of God it was under?
Which is the God who SEES you!
Are you kidding me!? The chills went through me and I started to weep. It was all I needed. I just needed to know that I was not invisible. I just needed to know that God sees me among hundreds of talented and loud women and He says “I see you child! Stop doubting”
It was a remarkable feeling. It was a greater feeling, than a publisher noticing me.
I try to remember that feeling on days like today when I’m sitting at home feeling invisible.
I feel invisible a lot. But I know I shouldn’t. I know my husband loves me. And my kids think I’m pretty cool. I know I have some friends. I think the dog really appreciates me. But I can’t help this feeling of invisible from seeping into this ordinary mundane life I seem to live.
We were created with a desire to be noticed. In fact if we look into many of our deepest desires we would find that it points to the way we were created. The world tries to fulfill this desire in our hearts but will always ultimately fail. It’s a deep pit that only God can manage to fill.
I hope I can have a chance to me you, the reader of this post, someday and encourage you and tell you all the ways God has made you special and how un-invisible you are! Take care, friend!
Julie and her husband Josh have been on many adventures in ministry. They have three kids. Julie is a gifted bible teacher, writer, speaker and entrepreneur.
Connect with Julie on her website Eyes Wide. Heart Deep at julieluse.com
No one notices when she walks into the room. No one asks her how things are going. Someone may offer up the obligatory “how are you?”
“I’m good, things are good”, she smiles and answers plainly.
Satisfied with her “I’m good” answer they walk away, they’ve done their part.
Our Invisible Woman doesn’t have a special person like that young lady over there with a mentor friend who not only asks, but also invests in and checks in on that young woman. Invisible Woman thinks to herself, “Maybe it’s her mom or something. I wish I had someone like that.” It is so sad how much the Invisible Woman notices that no one to notices her.
Could this be you today? Lonely and unnoticed.
Before I was a mom I had a really great career in Human Resources. I was recognized and praised and it felt so good. Even so, it was not hard for me to leave my satisfying job to care for my baby boy when he arrived. Baby-raising is intense and good and sweet. I was so busy being vigilant about my boy and soon after, my baby girl, that I didn’t even notice that I was going unnoticed. I was too focused on my babies and potty training. But soon my babies began to grow into kids. Then my kids both went off to school. That’s when I realized how unnoticed I was. For the stay at home mom, it is very lonely. There is not a team of people around you to say, “Great job! We know we can always count on you!” At jobs you even get recognized for years of service. So hey mom, when was the last time you were noticed and recognized for your accomplishments? Hopefully it was on Mother’s Day. My heart yearns for you to be built up more than once a year.
In a world where you can connect with hundreds of people on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Tumbler, we are still so hungry for a deeper connection that somehow Facebook cannot offer. Our hearts cry out, “Notice me! See me! Like me! Get to know me!” Maybe you’ve seen some attention seeking behavior on social media that made you want to roll your eyes and ask them how old they were. Sometimes we just feel needy. Is that bad? Is it a weakness to be in need of encouragement? It is a bad idea to depend on Facebook “likes” and Twitter “favorites” as a measure of how liked and noticed we are because many of us would draw a dangerous conclusion that we are not worth much at all.
This is not about being the center of attention, the center of the universe, or having the world revolve around us. This is not narcissism. This is about a desperate need for sincere community. For women who cannot count on work friends, church friends, close family or neighbors they need to know they are not invisible and they do belong.
I recall a time when three weeks went by without a call or email or text from anyone. During that time I tried reaching out. Friends and family were too busy to get together or it was just inconvenient. It was a lonely time that drew me to my knees in tears. We were made to connect with people. I would say that if you are in tears because you haven’t been able to connect, that makes you very normal.
I have often thought that the best cure for this was to be what you wish you could get from others – a kind of give-to-get mentality. You want people to take an interest in your life? –then show interest in theirs. You want others to remember you and notice you? –then remember them and notice them. Sometimes this works, but it takes time. And sometimes it never comes back. You find yourself being the interested encourager in others and no one is interested in encouraging you.
From this well-meaning yet flawed approach we see our need for an alternate source of deep love in our life. Jesus is the only Person that will not let you down in the care and concern department. How awesome it is to feel His love and strength welling up inside so that even when no one loves back I can still extend genuine life-giving love. Whether its to my husband, sister, brother or friend, I can only love them if I have the love of God flowing from me -God’s kind, patient and not self-seeking love. Something amazing happens when you open your heart to receive His love. It is a fountain. The love flows one direction from an eternal source. A fountain does not expect or even conceive of ever seeing anything make its way back up. A fountain just wants the water to flow out.
It is this kind of love that helps you dial your phone when it hasn’t rung or send a text when you haven’t received one. This love helps you press the send button while your inbox remains empty.
pray with me
Lord help us to love like this even when we feel invisible. Please remind us how valuable we are to You. I pray that we would wake up everyday seeking You to find our value and place in this world so that we can share it with others who feel invisible.
What do you think about neediness? Do you think it is a weakness or personality flaw?
When have you felt invisible?
Older women – What advice or encouragement would you give to an invisible mom?
Did you ever stop and think that you could be the noticer that a lonely mom needs? Tell God you are ready for Him to use you to reach out to a lonely mom today. Show His interest in your eyes and His care in your words.
If you are lonely, please don’t stop trying to connect. Send that email, send that text and make that call.
Let me know how it goes!
I have so much more I’d like to give you today but fear it would exhaust the proper length of a blog post! We will continue this Invisible Woman topic tomorrow as we learn about God: El Roi, the God who sees. Such comfort for The Invisible Woman!
A month ago I was watching an episode of Hoarders: Collection (um yah, sometimes it’s the only thing that motivates me to clean my house) and my ears perked up during a conversation a counselor was having with a client on her porch. He brings out a bag full of empty cans from her house and sits down with her and her adult daughter.
The counselor asks her, “So what’s your thoughts about the cans?”
hoarder: “I see potential in everything. Lots of things you could do with tin snips, make flowers, all kinds of crafts…”
counselor: “Well you said you see potential in everything except yourself.”
hoarder: “Well I’m too old for potential anymore.”
counselor: “So theoretically this can has more potential than you.”
She nods and looks down.
Now I understand that the hopeless condition of this woman’s soul is a product of a painful abusive marriage that ended 20 years ago. My beautiful life cannot compare to her pain and loss but there was a part of me that could relate with what her counselor was getting at. I myself had just recently questioned my own worth and potential.
A friend told me about a writer’s conference called Jumping Tandem. I wanted to go so bad and I really needed to go. Seemed like it might actually work out until my husband said that he accepted an invitation to help some family members four hours away. Grandma and grandpa would be on vacation in Mexico. Fiona would need to go to a birthday party and Tony would have a baseball game. Who would watch my kids that needed to be in two different places at once! This was a logistical nightmare! And of all weekends why must it be this one?
My thoughts turn to…
“Looks like I’m staying home to hold everything together, like always, (very dramatically) and always will.
It gets worse though. Check out these other pity party thoughts I was entertaining…
“Serves me right, though. I don’t generate any income for our family so why should I spend it on improving me.”
“The family four hours away has a much more noble cause so why shouldn’t Jeff go help them.”
“Don’t be so selfish Bri”
But my heart was crying out! …”I’m home all the time! Everything I do is for the advancement of my husband and kids. Just this once I want to go and invest in me. Seriously my time away would amount to less than 24hours. Can’t I have that Lord? Am I being so selfish in wanting this?”
Then I thought of the hoarder and her can. And I thought of all the potential I see in my dear friends. If they ever came to me with such lies and an invitation to a pity party I would immediately tell them to stop it and do what ever it took to go to that conference. I knew I had much more potential than trash. My dreams, desires and talents are always worth fighting for. Pursuing dreams will usually be inconvenient on some level. Inconvenient for me and my family.
I felt like the Lord was saying, “Well how bad do you want this Bri, ’cause I’m not going to make it easy for you. Do you think it’s worth all this. Are you worth all this? Do you believe you are worth investing in?”
The hoarder refused to have a vision for her life. I knew that I didn’t want to get stuck in that kind of self-depreciating rut – I wanted to get in my groove!
Ok you moms, how many times have you had those same thoughts?
…”Husbands and kid needs come first all the time. How could I ever ask them to bend over backwards on my behalf?”
Well picture yourself 40 years in the future and hearing the same words that our hoarder’s daughter told the counselor “It’s hard to hear my own mom say that there is more potential in a something that is trash than there is in her.”
I do believe that our kids and husbands take great pride in watching us pursue impossible dreams. Have you ever stopped to wonder that just maybe they would love to bend over backwards on your behalf the same way you love to do it for them? Seriously, we only need to ask. But we won’t ask if deep down we don’t think we are worth it.
The Lord was not making this weekend event difficult so as to cruelly dangle some unattainable fruit in my face. He really wanted me to see that I was worth fighting for. I think The Lord wanted my husband and kids to see me fighting for this dream too. I think He smiled in relief when I decided that I was. After all, He paid so much for me. With His very life He told me how much I was worth.
-Here’s A Good Word-
Twice Paul encouraged Timothy to pursue his talents and invest in himself.
Do not neglect your gift…. -1 Timothy 4:14
…I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you… -2 Timothy 1:6
What are some dangers of having that pity party in front of your husband and kids?
I would never want my kids or husband to feel like they were the reason I never did the things I always wanted to.
Tell me about a time that the Lord did not make it come easy, whatever it was.
Is it easier for you to invest family resources into every member of the family except you? Why?
Tomorrow… I’ll tell you the rest of the story. Was I able to get it together to go to the JumpingTandem conference? How hard would I have to fight for this… and a special message from My Darling (husband Jeff)