Every one of us has felt invisible at some point in our lives or another. Whether it was at a party full of strangers, in the middle of the grocery store or in the privacy of our own home when our brothers got all the attention or our husband is distracted.Our lives may center around our needs and desires but not everyone else’s does and unfortunately that can be a difficult reality.
We all want to be seen, but it’s not just about image.
We feel invisible when our words, works or worth is not perceived as valuable. Which, of course, is complicated because our perception is filtered by our love language. For example, if we desire words of affirmation yet no one speaks up, we may feel worthless even if we are given a gift of gratitude.
Allow me to go back to the example of Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb (last week’s blog). When John tells this story in chapter 20, he doesn’t mention the other women who were with her. The other gospels do. I can’t help but wonder if Mary’s friends were invisible to John?
Consider this with me:
John must have been a sensitive man. His gospel is full of stories about relationships and the heart of the people involved. Do you think that perhaps John references only Mary because she was the one he connected with? Maybe they spoke the same love language. Maybe they were both sensitive. Maybe John just couldn’t relate to the other women. Perhaps they stuffed their feelings and he wasn’t even aware of how much of what he was going through was affecting them too.
I’m not sure why John doesn’t mention Mary Magdalene’s girlfriends, but they were there because Matthew and Mark refer to the “women” of the same story and Luke records the names of some of them.
Luke 24:10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.
Have you ever been left out of a story or treated as if you were not part of something significant? I have, and it used to bother me a lot until I realized that I do the same thing to others. Just the other day I bought a coffee at a drive-through and as I drove away it dawned on me that I was so pre-occupied in my mind that if someone were to ask me to describe the window server I wouldn’t be able to. Not because the server was invisible, but because I was blinded by my own self-obsessed nature. Most often it’s our own issues that keep us from connecting with others.
We recognize and remember those who we connect with.
When my husband and I lost our daughter we made a conscious effort to allow each other to deal with the grief in our own ways. We had been told that 90% of couples who lose a child end up divorced and with the way our coping mechanisms would fluctuate we realized how hard it is to see each other’s heart when our own is so broken. But dealing with a crisis is enough; how foolish it is to become offended by the people we need so desperately. I believe our decision to BE and LET BE is the reason our marriage not only survived but was also strengthened.
Our connection to one another’s pain not only increased our intimacy, but it also opened our eyes to all the invisible people whose lives were also affected by the loss of our child. It wasn’t all about us.
We were all in this life together and together we can make it through.
If you are in the midst of a crisis, I encourage you to become aware of those around you. It may be obvious that other people are hurting, like you are; connect with them, encourage them and allow them to encourage you. Others may be less demonstrative and may be stuffing their pain or trying to be strong for you; acknowledge them, appreciate them. Allow their strength to sustain you, but also allow them to be weak in a moment when you do have strength and enjoy the experience of true connection.