Sunday, November 18, 2007

invisible

I recently spent time with some people around whom I often feel invisible. Sometimes they choose to acknowledge me. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes I'm part of the conversation, engaged and laughing. Other times, I begin to speak and eyes turn away, starting new conversations as if I'm not even there. It happened twice just last night, as we were sitting around the table at a restaurant: I would have someone's eye contact, begin speaking, and watch them shift their gaze and join in on a conversation with the person next to me. It is a horrible feeling, a potpourri of sadness and loneliness and anger, especially when it is a group of people among whom you are supposed to belong. Eventually, you just want to stop talking altogether.

Later, I realized something: My evening around that dinner table gave me a taste of a feeling that some people experience every day. It has left me thinking about those in the world who spend every day overlooked and unacknowledged. I think of the homeless, who are often left wandering as nameless, storyless men and women whom no one cares to know. I think of those in lower socio-economic brackets, whose voices are seldom heard by any of those in power. They are not greeted as quickly and with the same friendliness by store employees. They are denied many opportunities that people like me so often take for granted.

Being invisible for one day--not even a full day--can feel crushing. I can't imagine living my whole life in that place. I find myself, in these moments of perpective, called back to the words in Proverbs that have challenged me all year : "Speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves..." That has meant so many things to me over the past several months. Tonight, it calls me simply to this:

I want the kind of heart that refuses to make others feel invisible. I want to really see people, and for them to know that they are seen. May God grant me the grace, despite all my selfishness, to truly begin to live my life that way.

6 comments:

Carrie said...

Inspiring words reflecting a beautiful heart, my friend. I'm sorry you experienced the agony of invisibility, but thank God for using you to turn ashes into beauty. Pain has a purpose and I see it drawing you closer to Christ and igniting your passion.

randsomed journeyer said...

me too...

Matt said...

Well written and compelling.

I’ve spent my whole life alternately embracing and fighting my own compulsion to be the center of attention. I notice the looks on people’s faces when I talk over less powerful (read egotistical) personalities and I hate myself for it. Thank you for putting into words the emotions that I see in the eyes of those tender hearts and reminding me that being louder doesn’t make a person more important.

How’s that for a first comment…a bit more honest than I intended!

Katie said...

The interesting thing about it is, that I'm sure that as anyone reads what you wrote, we can all remember times when we have been that person, yet we so easily forget to let the voices of the unnoticed be heard. This was a good reminder... I'm sorry you experienced that, friend, it's painful

randsomed journeyer said...

hey friend...when do finals get over for you? want to get some coffee before Christmas? Let me know. :)

Olin said...

hmmm. I'm looking forward to when you get back from your trip so we can talk instead of text.