Updated: Dec 27, 2018
There is no better exercise for the heart than reaching down and lifting others up.
I see them at every school function. At the park with their children. I run into them at restaurants and at the grocery store. I see them jogging around the neighborhood together staying fit. I see them chatting on Facebook, making fun plans together. I see them at our kids' athletic events and at the nail salon. I see them at church in their Sunday school groups; the groups I am excluded from because I am no longer married. I see them throwing baby and bridal showers for one another and attending weddings together. Always laughing. Always smiling. Always with each other. They must never feel lonely like I do.
I hear about them calling one another up and making plans. I hear about their meaningful phone conversations when things aren't going well in someone's life. I see them requesting prayers for a struggling friend. I see them checking on one another. I see their husbands hanging out with one another and their kids growing up together. I scour through photos of their amazing dinner parties and vacations together wishing, hoping they will notice me and that I will be invited to come along.
They don't know what it feels like to be invisible. But I do.
We develop Godly character when we treat people the way we want to be treated, not the way they may treat us. -Joyce Meyer
I see all of them, but they don't see me. The clique moms. The group of women who exclude anyone whose life does not resemble the perfection of their own. I get a curt "hi" or a slight nod when we run into one another, but never anything more. It makes me feel as though I am not good enough. It makes me feel like there's something wrong with me. I'm never invited to lunch. I'm never invited over for play dates. No one offered to throw me a baby shower. They never call to check on me or see what I'm up to. They never text unless there is a hidden agenda. They never put out a prayer request for me. I'm just here. Invisible to them.
Oh, they will contact me if they want or need something. They always do. They act like a friend, quickly ask how I am without waiting for an answer, then immediately ask for whatever it is they need or want. It's the same script every time. I always oblige and soon become invisible again. It's a vicious cycle that has been fed by my social anxiety and fear of rejection. You see, I'm just not good at saying "no". I'm not good at establishing boundaries. Every time one of them calls or texts, I latch onto false hope that they want to be a part of my life. A friend. I am disappointed each and every time.
I find it ironic that these women praise Jesus together at church, but rudely leave others out. That they shy away from people like myself. I must be irrelevant to the Lord because I am ended a marriage, therefore I am irrelevant to them. I no longer fall in His good graces as a single mom, so therefore not theirs. How could I? I committed the one of the biggest no-no's as a Christian woman. I DIVORCED my husband. I broke the covenant of marriage.
These women whispered behind my back about how poorly I was treated when my husband was abusing me, cheating and doing things married men should not do. Whispered about how they pitied me. They never came forward to pray over me, to show love and support. Now they whisper behind my back about how bad of a person I am for divorcing him. No matter what I do, they will always have something to whisper about. There will always be a reason for them to pretend I don't exist because my life looks different from theirs. I will never be one of them.
And that's OK. The Lord is teaching me lessons through these women. He is teaching me about grace. He is teaching me about following His instruction. He is teaching me about love and acceptance. I could do one of two things. I could either get angry and become hateful to these ladies, or I could treat them like Jesus would. I choose the latter. I choose grace. I choose love and acceptance. I choose empathy and I choose to follow His instruction.
When these women whisper behind my back, I smile at them. I remain kind and warm. I make an effort to ask how they are. I no longer dwell on their exclusion. When they need or want something from me, I willingly oblige instead of feeling like I need to yell, "No! You don't talk to me unless you need something!" I remember I'm serving the Lord by serving them. I am showing these women what His love and grace is about. Yes, these women who live with double standards need grace too. And probably a whole lot of love. Because things are not always as they seem.
In 1 Peter 4:8-9, we are instructed "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." By showing these women authentic hospitality and love, I am obeying the Lord. By following these commands, I am learning to identify and reach out to others who, like myself, also feel invisible. Others who need some grace just like I do. Others who need an empathetic ear to listen to their stories and to simply include them.
Invisibility can be painful. Invisibility can crush even the strongest of spirits. But inclusivity can restore. If you're experiencing invisibility yourself, why not start looking around for others who are also feeling excluded and invisible? Reach out to them. Include them. Shower grace over them. Love them. Pray for and with them. Open your home and your heart to them. In doing so, you will make yourself shine so bright that absolutely no one can miss your presence. You have unlimited potential to create Godly friendships.
Shine your brightest self and I promise you, you will be invisible no more.