01.12.2017

Can You See Me Now?

It came out in just a few words.

Here’s how she said it, via text. Because sometimes we can write things we wouldn’t dare say aloud.

I just think, “I am useless, I am invisible, I am wasting my time.” All the heartache in 11 words. Useless, invisible, time waster. If someone else said these things about us, our hearts would melt away in a puddle. But we say these things about ourselves, thinking somehow it’s okay to verbally beat ourselves up, even though we wouldn’t dream of saying them about others. Sometimes we have to speak life to our own souls before we’ll ever be capable of speaking it to others.

My fingers typed back the only response I knew to give:

The cure to feeling invisible is to see others more clearly.

Lest she think I have all the answers for all of life, I quickly added a clarifying text: I only know this so well because I had to practice this last night.

Sometimes we all feel a little invisible. And we fight back by seeing others more clearly.

This text conversation, right after Christmas, when all the lights still glittered, New Year’s resolutions promised new beginnings. But the words keep ringing in my head: The cure to feeling invisible is to see others more clearly. Because haven’t we all felt a little invisible at different moments of life? We’re walking, talking, living life, but not being seen. Though even if we were honest with our desires, we’re not even sure what we want people to see.

Seeing

Would they see all the insecurities?

Would they see the wounds?

Would they see broken more than beautiful?

There’s been this rereading of the Gospel of Mark, a little bit of a self-proclaimed least-favorite Gospel. Well sometimes, the least favorite becomes the most loved, and that’s been where I’ve rested these past few weeks. Right in the middle of neglected pages of my Bible, trying hard not to underline every word.

Mark tells the story of the woman whose sickness had tormented her for 12 years. Twelve years of feeling invisible, cast out, useless, wasting time. Mark tells us her efforts to see various doctors had worsened her condition. So she doesn’t want Jesus to see her. She comes from behind in a huge crowd, and touches His cloak. Twelve long and lonely years can make you feel unworthy of being seen. But Jesus keeps looking until He sees her. And when He does, he heals her, and she tells him the “whole truth.” Only Mark tells us the three story-changing words.

The whole truth.

The 12 years of feeling unseen, forgotten, abandoned, worthless.

The whole truth.

How she didn’t consider herself worthy to see Jesus face to face.

The whole truth.

How she felt that maybe if she touched Him, He wouldn’t notice. Just like no one else had noticed her efforts.

The whole truth.

That now that He was looking for her, and the entire crowd had stopped to stare, she felt  more vulnerable than in all those 12 years.

The whole truth.

Being invisible is sometimes a protective shell we wear because being visible feels fragile.

So Jesus heals,  and promises peace and freedom. When He sees her, she’s free to see others. I want to beg Mark to tell me the rest of her story. Where’d she go? Who did she see? How did newfound peace and freedom change her world? But her story happened in the middle of another man’s story, so Mark gets back to telling that one instead.

The whole truth.

What did she tell Jesus in that moment?

We’ll never know, but it might sound similar to the stories we’ve told ourselves. And he heals. And promises peace and freedom. The self-tormenting stops when He sees us. Offering peace and the freedom to see others. So when I feel most invisible, I know to look to Him and then look for others. There’s pieces of God woven in all of our lives if we’re looking.

I practiced in the car ride home yesterday. A van packed full of five children should feel easy to see others. But rides have been filled with their mindless chatter while my mind swirls in problems of my own. The seeing of them can be simple. But it’s often simply overlooked. So we talk feelings about the day, instead of feeling overwhelmed by the day. We talked about friends we have instead of focusing on friends we wish were closer. I didn’t ask one boy about his hard test, but instead asked him his favorite part of lunch. Because reliving hard tests can feel a little bit like having to have a tooth pulled. So tell me about your lunch.

I want to see all five of you for just a few moments before we unload the van, unpack our bags and go separate ways within the house we call home.

I want you to feel seen if only for a few moments of your day. Because He’s seen me, and I give the seeing to others. This reflecting Him is what I’m called to do, even on my most invisible days.

 


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