Much of my life I’ve felt invisible. Believed the lie that I’m so insignificant, so unimportant to others that I might as well be thin air for them to peer through.
And all the while, I’ve longed to be peered into, to be seen.
That’s how I lived in elementary school, when I got picked last every. single. time. That’s how I existed in middle school, with frizzy hair and glasses, keeping my head down, my mouth shut. That’s how I functioned in high school, feeling forgotten anytime I found myself without a steady boyfriend. Forgotten. Invisible. Unimportant.
I didn’t feel seen. Have you ever felt like that? I was desperate to be seen, not for my appearance or my accomplishments, but seen for my inner being, for who I was beneath the veneer.
Several years ago, I found myself at an orientation weekend for new leaders preparing to lead mission trips for teenagers. I went primarily to support my husband’s dream, to understand what drove him to be interested in leading a mission trip. I went alone, leaving Steve and the kids at home for two whole days. And I knew no one. Not a soul.
I arrived early, because, well, that’s what I do. And, sitting in the cafeteria on a campus designed to raise up and train college-aged kids, I found myself surrounded by 18, 19, and 20-year-olds. I found a table and sat with my lunch and a book, totally content to be alone when a girl approached me. She was easily ten years younger than my 28-year-old self.
“Hi! How’re you doing?” she said. Caught off guard by being noticed, I replied and we chatted for a minute or two. Then she asked if she could pray for me. What? Ok, sure!
Then she smiled, wished me a great day and went on her way. I sat there smiling, uplifted, and a little dumbfounded that she’d seen me in the first place and had been so comfortable starting a conversation with me. This was only the first of many such interactions with the interns on campus that weekend.
But, when I arrived in the main building for orientation to begin, I started to look around with new eyes. Rather than being so focused on feeling alone and forgotten, I started to look around for other people who appeared to be alone or out of their element.
It wasn’t easy for me at all, but I forced myself to start conversations, approach these strangers. Very quickly, I realized that I wasn’t the only one who felt unseen. And even faster, I noticed how appreciated a kind word was. How impacting simple eye contact could be.
I may not have seen into their souls to know their deepest depths in that moment. But by simply looking in their eyes, reaching out for a handshake, and offering an invitation to come sit with me, I saw incredible change. Discomfort shifted to relaxation. Uncertainty was exchanged for comfort. It was a beautiful thing!
Over the years, I’ve continued, though it’s still not natural for me to reach out to strangers and say hi. But it’s getting easier every time. And nearly every time I do, I’m pleasantly surprised at what happens: a smile, a look of relief, perhaps a new friendship.
All those years I felt unseen because people ignored me…all that time I spent believing the lie that I ultimately didn’t matter…perhaps people didn’t truly see me. But God did.
He never forgot me. He saw me. He declared me priceless.
And as I believe with ever-deepening conviction that these things are true, that the lie is a lie, I can see with fresh eyes when I look at others. Growing more confident in who He declares me to be helps me reach beyond myself to see the beauty and value in others. God’s perspective becomes my own when I begin to look at others the way He sees them…precious, priceless, of inestimable value.
Where are you at today? Are you feeling unseen? He sees you. He does!
Can you see others today through His perspective? In trusting that you are seen, will you challenge yourself to see those around you with fresh eyes?
Are you inTENtional in your relationships with your children? Beneath the weight of living and day-to-day responsibilities, it’s so easy to stay in survival mode. We think it’s too hard…we aren’t doing enough…WE aren’t enough.
I read an article a while back (forgive me for not remembering the author!) which said something very freeing: “As parents, we don’t need to be fully present to our kids ALL of the time. But, we do need to be fully present SOME of the time.”
What I was doing was being semi-present ALL of the time, hounded by mama-guilt that I wasn’t doing enough. But then, God showed me how to apply ten minutes at a time with inTENtionality.
I realized how powerful 10 minutes can be in helping me be fully present to my children some of the time, which is far better than only being semi-present all of the time. There are meals to cook and laundry to do and work to accomplish and urgent tasks that require attention. And kids can enjoy time playing on their own or with siblings or friends.
But I can know now that when I’m with my kids, I can have inTENtional times where I’m truly with them!
My latest book dives into very practical detail as to how to be inTENtional with 10 minutes. Currently, it is available for FREE downloads to all subscribers to Now Found Ministries. (Once you subscribe, you will receive an email with your access code.) The inTENtional Mama is available for Kindle, iBooks, and Google Play.
I pray this is a resource that you will find a very practical blessing in your relationship with your child! Be the amazing mama you are! Be inTENtional!
About four years ago, I sat in my small women’s group and received a personal prophetic word. (For any skeptics out there, let me assure you it’s not weird or frightening with clouds twirling above your head or anything! New Testament prophecy is all about building up, encouraging and consoling people with your words…check out 1 Corinthians 14:3!)
The lovely lady who spoke to me was describing a gift she perceived I had and, with great care and gentleness, she said that that gift needed to be covered in love…I needed to basically get a Masters degree in love so that God could most fully work through my life and transform others.
And…by the way…the beautiful woman speaking to me was our very own Jan Greenwood. (Thanks again, Jan!)
Jan knows quite a lot about living a life rooted in love, but I also very much relate to her initial frustration in hearing about living a life of love and the fruit of the Spirit instead of placing that focus on power. With power, we could do really BIG things, right?
I love how Jan described living a life that is full of the fruit of the Spirit: “It creates an atmosphere where there is potential for God to move in power.”
Ah! Not MY power, but HIS! His power to move and become more in an atmosphere that is surrendered to Him…one that puts more emphasis on the fruit rather than the power.
“If I focus more on God’s power than on the fruit of the Spirit, I end up traveling in circles, missing the access ramp to the destination I’ve been dreaming about. But when I let go of my need to be the deliverer of power, I become a highway of love upon which God’s presence and power can move.” -Women at War
Let’s take a look at a few questions from the end of chapter 9. We want to hear your thoughts! Your voice matters and we’d love you to join the conversation!
1) Define “love” in your own terms.
2) 1 John 4:16 says, “God is love”. How does that statement make you feel?
3) Read your earlier definition of “love” and compare it to the passage from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. How do the two match up?
I encourage you to take some time thinking through the other questions at the end of this chapter as well. See what God has to show you about what He wants to do in YOUR life!
How many of us have heard this being said in the heat of an argument? Why is that said? To release stress of the argument, to prevent negative or even more damaging things from being said, to prevent hurt or further separation? The answer is yes to all of these.
Proverbs 17:14 NIV
Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.
As the Scripture said going down that path is like breaking open a damn. It is better to simply drop the argument then deal with the overwhelming flood about to happen. But what about the issues on the other side of that barrier so close to breaking?
Why not take it easy and start letting the “water” out easily. In the heat of the moment, just drop it and when the water has settled start to talk about the stressors behind the emotion? You both will enjoy the discussion much more.