Do you ever feel invisible?

Are there times your voice is not heard?  Is it because you do not speak up?  Or are the other voices and sounds drowning you out?

Do you ever want to be, maybe even need to be,  invisible?

When I was newly widowed, there were many times I felt invisible.  I didn’t fit into any group.  I was no longer married, but wasn’t quite single, either.  My friends were still in the married group.  I moved from “part of the group” to “third wheel” status in the blink of an eye.  I didn’t know how to be seen.  Others seemed to look through me, not ever seeing the ME that stood there.  I didn’t know how to be seen, because I didn’t know how to see myself.   I watched as others buzzed around and wondered how I could be so lonely in a such a busy group of people.  I didn’t know how speak up,  it was easier to fade away than to endure the pain of living in the world in which I no longer belonged.

One can be invisible for lots of reasons.  When another’s need to be recognized  is louder and more aggressive than your own, their need pushes all others out-of-the-way.  I feel the shutters begin to close in around me.  My opinion doesn’t matter.  My voice in not important.  Even the facts and information that I know are dismissed and discounted if they are not in agreement.  I am forced to disappear within myself to avoid further conflict.  It is often that very need to avoid conflict that pushes me further onto the sidelines.  When I am helpless to change anything, when  I’m caught on the carousel of life and there’s no way to regain control, I disappear.

There are times when I try to blend into the background.   There are other times when I need desperately to be heard,  to be seen.  But, I’m  invisible.   It’s as if I’m speaking in an unknown language or wearing the cloak of invisibility.  No one is listening.  No one sees me.  Regardless of how hard I try, I cannot break through.  I begin to believe that I’m truly invisible, that I truly do not matter.  And, that is the real problem.  I accept the invisibility.  I stop trying.  I fade away.

We need to be aware of those invisible people that surround us.  The invisible person may be that homeless person that has become a part of the background.  The invisible person may be the senior citizen that tells the same stories over and over and over again.  The invisible person may be the widow that reminds you how fragile life is.  The invisible person may be a friend or family member that refuses to see things your way causing you to rethink your own ideas or decisions. Invisible people surround us.  They work in the deli’s in our offices.  They stand on the street corners.  They are our neighbors, our friends, our family.  We need to put on our “X-ray vision” and find those invisible people.  We need to see them.  Listen to them.  We need to care.

God, investigate my life;
    get all the facts firsthand.
I’m an open book to you;
    even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
    I’m never out of your sight.
You know everything I’m going to say
    before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you’re there,
    then up ahead and you’re there, too—
    your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
    I can’t take it all in!

 Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
    to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
    If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
    to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
    you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
    At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
    night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

Psalm 139 :1-12  MSG




Silence, the white space of daily lives. White space is important in art. It’s vital for the written word. Without white-space, words run together. Paintings lose focus. Music becomes noise. Photographs are not as sharp. We all need white-space. Silence. We long for it. We dread it.

Silence can mean peace and solitude. A time to reflect and re-energize. It’s in the comfort of silence that we find acceptance. Giving our permission to be exposed in that white space as the silent moments tick by. In a conversation, silence can be unnerving. The need to fill every moment with words seems to overwhelm. And yet, it’s often the silence that brings clarity. A time to think and consider.

Silence can be isolating, lonely, even feel hopeless. Words are weapons that we throw around with abandon. Silence is often the conscious decision to withhold any contact, positive or negative, from an intended victim. Withholding compliments, endearments, encouragement, instruction, concerns, questions and even correction can often cause as much injury as careless words. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” A common chant during childhood, one soon realizes that the “sticks and stones” are preferred to the less visible daggers being hurled. Words are invisible and we may never completely recover from an attack. Unfortunately, it’s the refusal to say ANYTHING that many times leaves the deepest scars.

Words are key bringing joy as well as inflicting pain. Too often, we only hear the negative things in life. When positive, uplifting talk is a normal part of your life, you can begin to take it for granted. But, let it disappear, for a moment, a day or forever, and you realize how much those words were needed to survive. You begin to suffocate under the everyday occurrences of life without the encouragement of positive words. And in those moments, filling the white-space is vital. Self-talk takes over every thought and even negative comments are sought. Anything to get rid of the silence that is so consuming. We no longer find comfort in the silence.

So, how do we make silence our ally? How do we harness the moments and embrace them? How do we live within the white spaces?

While we have no control over the words others give to us, we do control the words we give out. Make a conscious effort to be aware of your words as they are bandied about. Cushion the very silence others may fear with kind words. When difficult conversations are necessary, use gentle words to discuss problems. Don’t fall into the trap of using silence to hide issues or exact punishment. Help to blur the sharp edges of the white space. Build boundaries with your times of silence, not barriers. Enhance the relationships around you with thoughtful silences that promote confidence and security. Whenever the opportunity arises to share a loving word, to pay a compliment or to silently smile, TAKE IT!

With some effort, one will begin to recognize that silence is golden. Not as in a gilded cage that entraps, but as a precious commodity to be treasured.

Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:4 NLT