“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
It is a desert time for the Invisible Woman. A lonely struggle. Her eyes scan the horizon for a sign that it will be over soon but there is only dry sand and she is left to walk it out alone in the vast emptiness. It’s such hard work and maybe it would seem easier if she had a companion. For heaven’s sake don’t you dare sit down and give up for God is El Roi (el, ro-ee): The God Who Sees
This reminds me of a desert time for a young woman, Hagar. Her desperate story is told in Genesis 16:1-15. It almost ended very badly for her… but The Lord saw her.
Sarah and Abraham were never able to conceive. They are well past their prime and even so God had promised them a child, their very own – from them. As time went on they began to doubt the promise and took matters into their own hands. Sarah had a young Egyptian maidservant, Hagar. Sarah suggested that Abraham conceive a child with Hagar. And it was so. (Now ladies, of course you and I can obviously see that this would be a bad idea. Often our desperation can lead us to do the most regrettable things.) Soon Sarah experiences the full force of her regret as jealousy sets in and these two women begin to despise one another. Hagar flaunted her pregnancy and Sarah made life difficult for Hagar. It got bad. Sarah complained to Abraham but he was not much help. “Do with her whatever you think best. (Genesis 16:6)” he said, essentially –she’s your problem (I have a feeling this will not turn out well for Hagar). Her poor actions had inclined Sarah’s severe treatment. Women can be so cruel to each other. I can just see them getting their digs in, preying upon the insecurities of the other. Us ladies know how to get her where it hurts. These women made life miserable for each other. I’m sure the rest of the house was miserable too. It gets so bad that Hagar’s fight turned to flight and she runs, choosing the scorching heat of the desert over the unbearable conflict. She cries as she walks. Her heart is crushed. Her mind is anxious. Her hormones have her wound up and she just keeps putting as much distance as possible between her and the pain. All she can see is her pain.
But she is not as alone as she feels…
Next we read, “…the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the dessert…” Genesis 16:7
“Hagar, servant of Sarah, where have you come from, and where are you going?…Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” Genesis 16:8-9
Go back?! Submit?! An impossible task for a young woman whose pride has led her out here with only a burned bridge behind her. But God reassures her. He acknowledges her child and her misery and He lifts her downcast face to rise and see the future that awaits her. Her and her son. She has been seen. (Genesis 16:10-12) God saw her broken heart and saw her future.
With this divine assurance, she stands. And turns toward home. Eyes focused. She walks with purpose. God has spoken to her. Her son will live and grow to be a man. A steady peace and calm covers this reckless girl. Her anxious mind that was once so narrowly focused on her present injustice has now been given a view from a much higher place. And just there, on the horizon, she sees that this troubling time will pass. Confident that she has not and never will escape God’s watchfulness, she knows she’ll be alright. This is all the assurance she needs to overcome all of her trials.
She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “ You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” (Genesis 16:13)
El Roi – The God Who Sees
The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
According to Psalm 34:18, where is God when we are hurting?
We are so vulnerable when we go through desert times. Without support God can seem so far off; so detached from our pain and loneliness. Invisible woman, you need to know that God does see you. In fact, according to Psalm 34:18 He pays special attention to those who are hurting.
think with me
Did you ever consider that this season in the desert was designed by God to prompt you to come to Him? That possibly He has something special for you if only you would go to Him for comfort instead of another source? (In my lonely times God sees me not by a well in the desert, but when Netflix stops my show to ask if I’m still watching. Sadly I am. What a wonderful distraction from the burdens of life and alone-ness, insert eye-roll here.) Where does God see you?
If you’ve been hurt from being left out and unnoticed has there been a temptation to not even try to connect with others again? Has self-preservation become your only comfort? Don’t linger too long in the shadows. It’s time to come out into the light.
pray with me
El Roi, I believe that you see me. I believe that you see what is ahead of me and that you will use what is behind me. Lord, You are invisible and go unnoticed by so many of Your creation yet you do not give up on us. You are so patient with us. Your watchfulness has been my strength and comfort through every trial. I am never alone. You have our attention now, Lord. Forgive us for ignoring You as we feel sorry for ourselves. Here and now we lay down our pride and we turn humbly to You, seeking Your comfort and council. Amen.
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!