Can we just be gut honest for a bit, over coffee, about fear? Fears are a big deal and consume a ton of our energy. My greatest fear is not speaking in front of large crowds. I can even handle a few creepy crawlies (a few). I’m not necessarily afraid of heights, water or fire. I kinda dig thunderstorms. My greatest fear isn’t even rejection or failure. No, the thing that shuts me up and knocks me down in nano seconds is not death.
My greatest fear is being invisible.
That feeling that maybe, just maybe I could be passed over in a crowd, overlooked at the table, ignored in the conversation — those feelings suffocate me. It shuts down creativity and silences my voice, triggering all sorts of crazy thoughts – none of which make it out of my mouth but tend to make it to my feet.
I run from this fear.
And the wild thing is, its physically impossible for me to be invisible. I mean come-on, this may be a superpower in some comic books, but it is not possible for real people to be invisible. At least not in the flesh.
But we can become emotionally invisible.
And that can just about do us in.
I was reminded today about a woman in the Bible who felt invisible and it hurt something fierce. You’ll find her in the desert, weeping. She was not seen as a person with hopes, dreams, or potential but merely as the role she filled, a servant of someone elses dreams and promises. Her life had been about what she did and could do for someone else instead of who she was. Dispensable. Unimportant. Overlooked.
Now, before we go on about her struggle with invisible-ness, lets just say that those labels she wore and internalized — they brought out some ugly behavior. And while the actions taken against her were wrong and painful, her reactions weren’t healthy either. I wonder how things would’ve gone had she known her name was valuable enough, just as it was, to be included in eternity’s story ?
Take a glimpse into the scene in Genesis 16:6-8.
Abram replied, “Look, she is your servant, so deal with her as you see fit.” Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away.
The angel of the Lord found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur.
The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
“I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,” she replied.
Hagar had just been thrown under the bus. She was forced into being an egg-donor and surrogate for Sarai and Abram. Hagar wasn’t planning and probably didn’t want to be intimate with Abram, let alone carry his son. And then to make matters worse, once she became pregnant, Sarai became angry and jealous. There is no doubt this was a messy and painful situation. Hagar began to hide, shutting down her soul, becoming invisible. In her soul’s deterioration, Hagar lashed out, and that made Sarai react abusively. Which sent Hagar running.
We were designed to be authentic, present, contributing members of society. God created us with value and worth. We are meant to be seen. Despite the lie that being invisible tries to sell you, you can’t be authentic or present when you are invisible. You are either invisible to everything, or visible to everything. You can’t numb and block off some things without blocking off everything.
In her isolated and hidden shell, Hagar (who’s name means ‘flight’) could run from everyone and everything, only to collapse at the end of herself. She could hide from it all, except from God.
Right there at the river bank of her misery, the fall out of her world; right there her invisible soul met a very present God. He saw it all, He always sees it all. He never forgets or ignores. He had been looking for her, thinking about her and wanting to be with her.
The Bible says that the Angel of the Lord FOUND Hagar near a spring in the desert. That implies he was looking for her. When he found her there he reassured her that God had a plan, and all would be ok. She was seen. She was known. She was heard.
In verse 13 Hagar responds to this encounter by saying “I have now seen the One who sees me.” … “You are the God who sees me.”
God sees you friend. You are found. That fear of ours, the one that dreads being overlooked and unnoticed, well it’s impossible. We are visible to a very present God who will never leave nor forget us. Even when we run, He finds us.