We were quite the unlikely pair, she and I.
She, dressed in black from head to toe, hid beneath the hair always covering her face. I, dressed in whatever would cover me the most, hid beneath the face of perfection. She lived in the world where “numb” was the only available emotion; I lived in the world that never ran out of tears.
We didn’t meet in the most ideal of circumstances. In fact, we were both pretty much as far “rock bottom” as rock bottom can get.
I didn’t plan on talking to anyone there. With my face toward the white expanse and my chair back against the room, I was pretty much unapproachable.
She found me, nevertheless.
As she sat down at the table and turned her chair toward mine, I was already planning an excuse to hightail it out of there. There were “weirdos” here, and I wanted nothing to do with any of them. As I formulated my escape plan, she started talking to me.
“What are you doing?”
I’m pretty sure I looked at her like she was an idiot at this point. I mean, how much more obvious could staring at the wall be? Did I need to put up a sign saying, “Staring at Wall. Do Not Disturb”? Don’t worry though, I appeased her.
“Knitting a scarf, and-after lunch-I’ll be sewing mittens to match.”
It must have been my charm that encouraged her to keep on talking…because she did.
“Why are you here?”
“I have issues.”
She sat there for a moment and then said, “Yeah, me too.”
Wow. Shocker. All that time I had been thinking she was there on vacation.
She joined me at that table and never left. Every free moment, she sat there, sharing her story with me. As I listened to her life, I realized that she was not much different than me. Yes, the events were different. Deep down, however, she and I were cut from the same cloth. We both felt invisible in a big, scary world, and we both tried to gain the attention we craved any way we could.
“Sometimes I would give anything for someone to notice me.”
She told me this after showing me her scars. Scars that spoke of deep pain she couldn’t even name. Scars that cried out for attention. Scars that wanted to be seen and touched.
Scars that would never take the pain away.
I don’t remember her name. I didn’t keep the phone number that she stuffed in my hands before she left. I don’t even remember the school she told me she went to.
All I remember is her story and its theme.
She comes to my mind often. I pray that she has found some source of healthy attention, but parts of me doubt it. Statistics show that the majority of teens who leave institutions of the world return worse than they came in. They have no hope. All they see is what they know, and what they know holds no hope.
So they end up back in the arms of institutions, hospitals, and-eventually-jails.
It’s really all so sad.
Her struggle is not so foreign. We all want to be noticed. We all want to be seen. None of us want to be invisible, so we gain the attention any way we can. Some of us act out, holding the belief that any attention is better than no attention at all. Some of us chase perfection, believing that it will fill all of our needs. Some of us cling in desperation to every person we know, terrified of that moment they decide we are not worthy enough to be seen. Some of us create hopeless situations that warrant the need of a savior.
And we wait and wait and wait for that savior to come…only he never does. The human hero will never be able to save you, no matter how fancy his hero cape.
There is hope, though. There is someone who sees you in the midst of your pain, and He’s waiting for you to stop chasing human heros and look to Him. He has His own scarred hands. Scars that speak of your pain. Scars that speak of your own hopelessness. Scars that speak of the victory He has won for you.
He bore your scars so you would have no need for your own.
The truth is, we all struggle with wanting to be seen. We all fear becoming invisible. Some of us just go farther for attention than others. Some of us go all the way to rock bottom, and those of us who have been there can testify that even rock bottom will not make a difference.
God sees you, no matter where you are.
Think of Hagar, the unseen woman who said of God, “You are the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13). Think of David, who again and again thanked God for seeing him and rescuing him from the pit. Think of Paul, who lived with absolute assurance that God saw him and knew him. Think of Jesus, confident and secure in the knowledge that He was loved and seen by the Most High God.
My friend, you don’t have to battle for attention here on this earth. You don’t have to chase one image after another. All you have to do is rest in Him, for He sees you even from the darkest place.
I don’t know where she is today, but God knows. He sees her, and He feels her pain. Where I, as a human, could not heal her, He can. He can go in and heal her wounds from the inside out.
And He will.
Today as I end this post, I want to ask you for a favor. This topic has weighed heavy on my mind for some time now, and God has been showing me solid truths for those of us who never feel seen. As I work on a book proposal for To Be Beautiful (which, by the way, will cover this topic extensively), I want to hear from you, girls and women who deal with this desire day-in and day-out. All you need to do is answer this question as honestly as you can (anonymously, of course):
Of all the challenges of being a woman, what is the biggest one you face?
My unlikely friend’s answer was “being noticed”. She would have given anything to be seen, and her life reflected that. Your life reflects your greatest desire, whether you realize it or not. I am looking to hear from 100 women (I know, big goal!), so-if you would-answer this question as briefly or as extensively as you want and then pass it on. All you have to do is click “Comment” and type your answer in anonymously.
It’s that simple.
And remember that you are noticed today, even when you feel the most invisible.