Have you ever felt invisible?
I’m not talking about being cut off in traffic or when an automatic faucet refuses to acknowledge your presence. (Though sometimes that does make me wonder if I’ve suddenly become see-through.) I’m talking about those times when it seems the people around you have simply forgotten your existence. Being left out feels like being unloved. And it hurts. I truly believe most of us want to be loving people. But when you feel invisible and hurt, how are you supposed to extend love anyway? The secret lies in learning to love like you’ve never been hurt.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say this is easy. My heart has ached with the feeling of being overlooked and brushed aside. I’ve been in rooms full of people where everyone else was engaged in lively conversation, while I felt swallowed by loneliness after trying in vain to strike up even the most basic conversation. I’ve seen the Instagram posts showing my friends getting together and wondered why I wasn’t included. I’ve been left out of big moments in the lives of people I held as close as family. In those moments, it seemed impossible to love like I’d never been hurt.
I admit that too often, when I’ve felt overlooked and brushed aside, I’ve tried to further isolate myself. I wanted to somehow find protection by building walls in my heart. Sadly, that only drives the hurt deeper. But I’m here to tell you that it’s still possible to love, even when you’ve been hurt like that.
First, we have to remember that Jesus sees the “invisible,” just like He did with the woman in Matthew 9:20-22. She’d been struggling with a health battle for 12 years—one that kept her essentially invisible to everyone in her society. Her illness caused bleeding, which meant she would’ve been banished from living amongst her family and friends. Can you imagine over a decade of being cast aside, living life in isolation just because of an illness? But Jesus sensed her touch, and when He saw her, He said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well!” She was the center of His attention, and she was no longer invisible to anyone.
Jesus sees me. He sees you. Just as we are, without masks, pretense, or puffing ourselves up. We are completely visible and wholly loved. Let that truth sink in because it’s His love that will empower you and instill you with confidence for what comes next.
One of the best ways I’ve found to break that feeling of invisibility is to help someone else feel seen. The reality is everyone feels unseen sometimes, and it always hurts. Instead of letting myself get discouraged in my own loneliness, I look for someone I can lift up. The thing is, I can only see them if I stop focusing on myself.
Who else is awkwardly hanging back in the corner of a busy room? Have I noticed someone else missing from all those fun Instagram photos? Who seems to be dismissed by the crowd? It just might be that God has placed me where I can see them so I can offer some encouragement. The Apostle Paul’s challenge to the Thessalonian church, and to us, is important to remember. “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT
When you’re feeling unseen, fill up your tank with love and encouragement from God, and offer it to someone else who needs it. And just like that, neither of you are invisible. When you love like you’ve never been hurt, not only do you start hurting less, but others start hurting less, too.