Yesterday, a friend shared a story with me that reminded me of a truth I can easily forget more than I would like to admit. It was a story about a girl who felt invisible to the people closest to her. Her story struck a cord with me because I’ve been there before. In my heart, I know the simple act of actually being seen holds a power beyond measure to allow our souls to blossom. Without it, we wither.
When someone we trust says, “I see you. I see your heart. I see the good and beautiful, the ugly and worn. And you matter. Your experiences, thoughts and feelings are valid” our impenetrable walls can crumble. When we are acknowledged as precious and valuable apart from our money, our title, our talents, our status or what we can offer others, we can breathe in a fresh breath of life. We are free to be our authentic selves and we can stop searching for meaning in all the wrong ways.
I remember a long period in my life when I felt invisible deep within. People only noticed me for the facade I built around me: I mattered because I was thin, not because my heart was beautiful. I was liked because of who I was dating, not because I was enough on my own. My smile and ability to pretend everything was OK were acceptable, not my deeper feelings, thoughts and questions. I remember feeling exhausted by trying to be whatever I thought others wanted. If anyone ever got a glimpse of who I was at my core, I felt naked and covered it up as quickly as possible. And it still hurts my heart today to remember the crushing despair I felt when I thought few people would miss me if I was gone.
My saving grace during that painful time in my life was that I never could escape the truth that God SEES me. He constantly reminded me through various people and situations, that my life mattered – even though I wasn’t looking for Him. This hope has kept me putting one foot in front of the other to pursue breaking down the walls I built for so long. Even today, I am still tempted at times to want to build my walls back up when I open my heart. But God continues to be good to me, reminding me that He saw who I really was as my worst and He accepted me then and even still.
I am no different from most human beings. Deep within, I absolutely crave to be seen. I want to know that who I am, what I say and what I believe matters. I want to know that my life is making a difference in my small part of the world. At this point in my life, I have been blessed with a few people who truly see me and love me, no strings attached. And any time I am with them and am able to share my heart, I feel affirmed. These are what I call my “soul friends”. They’ve seen my beauty and my scars and they not only choose to stay, but encourage me to continue to be brave and courageous.
If you have soul friends in your life, the very best thing we can do is to be grateful and pass it along. We can stop and actually SEE those we come in contact with today. We can lighten others’ burdens by simply seeing them and saying, “you matter”. We are all human. We have insecurities, struggles and pain. We need each other to take a moment and notice.
And if you feel invisible today, I SEE you. And more importantly, God sees you. You matter to Him. You are accepted, valued and cherished exactly who you are TODAY. There are no conditions or strings. You don’t have to be good enough, or smart enough, or thin enough, or anything enough. You are seen, exactly as you are… And YOU are loved. Keep being brave with me. I promise, when you find those trustworthy soul friends, the pay off is worth it.