Sometimes I feel invisible. It seems like I’m watching life unfold around me, but I’m not an active participant, and I’m unseen.
Sometimes these moments are awesome. I can sit back and people watch, or I can listen quietly to conversations I’m not part of; not to eaves drop, but to just hear the murmur of voices without having to contribute to the flow of speaking.
Sometimes these moments are intentional. I can immerse myself into the middle of a crowd of strangers and carry on as though I truly am invisible. I really like that. It’s probably the reason I do most of my grocery shopping alone. I can be productive and rest in my thoughts. It’s a very peaceful thing for me.
Other times, being invisible is painful. I feel like I’ve been stripped of voice and identity. My circumstances echo a painful truth-I’m alone in this.
As a single woman, this always happens in moments of severe vulnerability. My car breaks down, or I have a massive to do list to tackle by myself, or I get sick and I just want someone to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer so I don’t have to get out of bed with my aching body. These situations can seem trivial in hindsight, but as they unravel, I want to scream. Does anyone see me? Do they even care? Why won’t somebody help me?
Recently, I was reading about the story of Hagar in the old testament. In the list of favorite or well known Bible stories, this doesn’t rate for most people. It didn’t for me anyway. She’s not the heroine, she’s not really a villain either. She’s just a background character that happens to get swept up in the action of someone else’s story. In fact, when she is discussed, it’s from a place of contempt and disappointment in Abram in Sarai. She’s the mistake they made in a moment of desperation. It’s completely not about her, ever.
She was invisible.
This woman was a slave. Her life’s purpose was to be unseen and unheard. She merely existed day in and day out as she fulfilled the tasks her master set before her. One day, she was given a task that reinforced the fact that she was an object to be used by her owners. She was made to have sex with Abram in order to conceive, carry, and deliver a child for him. That child would then be taken from her and raised as though he belonged to Abram and Sarai. I don’t think you can get any more invisible than this.
My heart ached for her as I read her life. To add insult to injury, Sarai was cruel to her. It got so bad that Hagar ran away before the baby was ever born. Life had become unbearable for her.
It was while she was in the wilderness alone, that something incredible happened. She was seen.
The angel of the LORD came to her and comforted her. He told her that she needed to go back home, but he promised her that her descendants would outnumber the stars. She was a slave, and yet God made the same promise to her that was given to Abram! She went from being a nobody to being the mother of a nation.
She eventually returned home as the angel instructed her to, and she gave birth to Ishmael. My favorite part of this story is in the tender words she speaks before leaving the wilderness.
Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi (which means “well of the Living One who sees me”). It can still be found between Kadesh and Bered.Genesis 16:13-14 NLT
That’s incredibly beautiful. She was seen by God, and she was able to see Him!
What’s making you feel invisible? Are you looking around your life wondering if anyone actually cares? Does it feel like you’re just existing while everyone else is being the hero of every story around you? Don’t despair sister!
We are seen. We are known. We are loved.
We are HIS!