I felt invisible all through high school. I was convinced that aside from my small group of friends (and my family, but they weren't at school with me) and the few people who were chronically mean to me no one else knew who I was. If I just disappeared, no one would notice, and if they did notice they wouldn't care, or worse they would be happy.
I wasn't popular enough (ok, I wasn't popular at all) for people to recognize me, and I wasn't unpopular enough for people to recognize me. I was just unpopular enough to be invisible.
Eventually, I began to realize that maybe I wasn't as invisible as I thought I was. People knew who I was, they just didn't care, or wished I wasn't. (Pause...this is not how I feel now. Jesus showed me that He sees me, and loves me and He rescued me. But it was the reality of how felt then, and maybe it's how you're feeling now.)
I think we all feel invisible at different times, and in different ways during our lives.
3 Ways We Feel Invisible
1. No one notices our pain.
Maybe we are going through something really hard: the loss of a loved one, a breakup, depression, anxiety, etc, and it feels like no one notices. We go about our day, going through the motions, but with pain in our eyes, and no one notices. No one pushes past the "fine" we give when they ask how we are doing. Our pain is invisible.
2. No one notices the good things that we do.
We do the dishes, we get an A on a big project, we solve a big problem at work, and no one notices. Sometimes, it feels like no one sees or appreciates the good things we do. We feel invisible.
3. People are aware of our pain, or our accoplishments, they just don't act like they care.
Sometimes, people are very aware that we exist. They can see our pain, or even our accomplishments, but they are too busy with their own lives or don't care enough to talk or listen to us. They may even have the ability to help us, but they choose not to. This might be the worst kind of feeling invisible.
I wonder if this is how Hagar felt in the Bible before she encountered El-Roi, The God Who Sees Me.
Hagar was the servant of Sarai (who would become Sarah) and Abram (who would become Abraham). Sarai was unable to have children, and got tired of waiting for God to give her the son He had promised her, so she decided to take matters into her own hands. She made Hagar get with Abram, so Hagar could have a son for Sarai. Hagar did indeed get pregnant, and despised Sarai.
Shocking right? I mean, she was a servant forced to marry her mistress' husband, and have his child for her. Of course, Hagar despises Sarai. But it gets worse. Sarai actually blames Abram for the whole thing, and then he tells her it's her problem and to do with Hagar as she pleases.
"...Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her." Genesis 16:6
Hagar is in a pretty terrible spot. She was forced to marry, have sex with, and conceive a child with Abram. She is now pregnant, and the people who are supposed to be taking care of her, are harming her. So she runs away, with no where to go, and no one to help her. She is still pregnant, and now on her own. That's a rough situation to be in now, but back then it was a completely hopeless situation.
I can only imagine that Hagar felt invisible. No one noticed or cared about what she was going through.
Then she encountered God.
"The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, 'Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?'" Genesis 16:7-8
God knew Sarai's name, and who she was. He knows yours too, and who you are.
"The Angel of the Lord also said to her: 'You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard your misery.'" Genesis 16:11 God saw what she was going through.
This is where we first see God called El Roi, which means "the God who sees me." "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
She felt invisible, like no one cared about her. But God saw her, and heard her suffering, and cares for her.
Ishmael, the name of her son, means "God hears." In Genesis 21, we see that after going back to Abram and Sarai and giving birth to Ishmael, eventually Sarai (who has become Sarah) gets jealous and sends them away. Hagar puts Ishmael under a tree and walks away because she does not want to watch him die. Again, she finds herself in terrible circumstances, being alone and hopeless with no resources to take care of herself or her child.
But, "God heard the boy crying..." Genesis 21:17 Again He promises to make him a great nation, and he provides a well for them to drink, and continues to take care of them and is "with the boy as he grew up." Genesis 21:20
You can read the whole story of Hagar and how God rescues her and Ishmael in Genesis 16 and 21.
God saw Hagar, and He heard her. He knew what she was going through, and He loves her and He rescued her.
God saw me, and He heard me. He knew what I was going through, and He loves me, and He rescued me.
I don't know what you are going through. I don't know if you feel invisible or like no one cares about you.
But God does. He sees you. He hears you. He knows what you are going through. He loves you, and He wants to rescue you.
Cry out to Him, talk to Him. He cares for you. He wants to comfort you. There is nothing you can't talk to Him about. He wants a relationship with you too. Have you stepped into His grace, and into your relationship with Him yet? He is waiting for you with open arms.