- Do you ever feel invisible? You walk into a department store and are browsing for awhile when another person walks in and the store assistant didn’t notice you, but suddenly she rushes to offer her assistance to them!
- Or you were at church in a group that was talking together (mixed ages) and they didn’t acknowledge you as part of the conversation? Or if you offered a comment, it seemed to be passed over with barely a ripple. You felt invisible.
- Or you went to the doctor’s office and felt treated as if you were a number instead of being treated as a human being. You might as well have been invisible.
These are only a few examples of many you may have faced. But since many of my readers are older, you understand that feeling. No it is not unique to older adults. We all get treated that way at times. But as an older adult, I have found that experience to be much more common.
Many others find this part of their everyday lives: those who are obviously handicapped in some way, a person of a different race in any setting, but particularly those who are members of minority races, anyone who is different in a way that most people do not want to be.
We definitely don’t want to give people the idea that GOD sees them
as invisible, but often we do…even in the church
It is especially sad when people experience that feeling at church, because that is so NOT the way GOD relates to us or wants us to relate to each other. We are made in HIs image and part of that truth means that each of us is to be treated with the honor and respect we would treat GOD if He walked into the room! No, I don’t mean bowing and scraping. I do mean, looking each human in the eye, listening to them with honor as they speak no matter how difficult it is for us to focus on them, putting aside our personal agenda for the time we need to interact with them.
That is what I mean when I talk about showing them respect. That is why it is so rude to be allowing our cell phones, for example, to take precedence over in-person contact with another human. (Yes, there is a rare emergency exception of course.) That is why I prefer to sit down to visit with a person, if possible. It gives me the chance to focus in on them…look them in the eye and listen to them, and hear their heart. It shows them that I respect them. They are not invisible to me.
We need to pay special attention to those who are going through times of weakness: caregiving, grieving, illness, divorce and other seasons of struggling. They often feel invisible.
This is especially important when it comes to women who are involved in caregiving, grieving, or in all manner of seasons of struggling. We do not honor them when we do things that show them we don’t care. Is it unintentional? Of course, It often is very unintentional. We all get busy. We are all involved with our own concerns. We don’t make time to notice people around us.
How can we be present where we are and respect the people who are present with us?
How can we make ourselves more aware? Be present where you are now Instead of where you aren’t? Do you honestly need to be talking to people that aren’t here? Pay attention to the people around you. Put your cell phone in your purse.
Will you have a few minutes where you feel uncomfortable? Undoubtedly. But once you get used to being present where you are, you will enjoy meeting the people around you and interacting with them. Sometimes, you will learn that they are a lot like you. Sometimes not. Sometimes, you will find that they are very different, but you will learn how they got to where they are and you understand how they got there…you get it! You learn more about people and how unique each one is.
There actually are some advantages to being “invisible” as long as you understand you honestly do have value
So being “invisible” can be good. In some places, let it work for you and listen to what is happening around you. Sometimes, you can plug into it. At others, you can learn from it. At other times, you can speak up and let them know you are present. You are there and you aren’t invisible. You have a voice and it has unique value.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.
Genesis 1:26-30 ESV
No matter how others behave toward us, the truth is that we are created in GOD’s image. As such, we have dignity. It makes no difference what we look like, what others think about us, how rich or poor we are, or a host of other possibilities. As human beings, we have that dignity within us. It may be marred because of sin, but it is there.
The other side of the coin is that if we are children of GOD, we are to treat other humans with dignity because they are made in GOD;s image…no matter how ravaged they are by sin.
How do you see GOD’s image in yourself?
How do you see GOD’s image in those around you that may be difficult to love?
In our next post, we will explore what it feels like to be treated as if we are invisible and why that is so hurtful.