"MAA MA! See meeeee!"
"MAAAA MAAAA! See ME!!!"
If I don't acknowledge my youngest son, this phrase is uttered (ahem....yelled) with increasing intensity about every five seconds. It's not enough for me to simply to respond to him verbally, he needs me to look at him. To make eye contact. To show him that I am focused solely on him.
In the course of a day, this happens often, (hellooooo year two of life), and most of the time what he wants to show me is pretty normal.
His hands are dirty.
He lined up his cars on the floor.
He has a boogie in his nose. Or on his finger. Or in his mouth.
Nothing earth-shattering. But to his little heart, these moments are of utmost importance. My son, in all of his two and a half year oldness, just wants to be known. He wants to be heard. He wants to be seen.
How very true it is for his mama too.
It's so very easy to feel invisible these days, isn't it? To feel like no one sees you. No one really hears you. It is absolutely possible to be surrounded by tons of people all day long, engage in conversation, and still walk away feeling like no one truly understood or saw the real YOU.
The need to be seen is innate in all of us. It takes just a quick glance at social media to see how many people are striving to be known. From Facebook videos of people lip-syncing to songs while driving (is this really a thing now?) to instagramming our smoothies, kale chips, and perfectly created lattes. "Going Viral" has become an aspiration for many.
There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to be known. It's actually a good thing, because it makes us seek community and relationships. It is the how, why, and the where of this need that we have to examine.
There are a couple questions that I ask myself to determine whether what I'm feeling is a healthy response to feeling invisible.
~Do I want to be known for what I do, what I post, or what I create more than who I am?
~Am I more focused about letting many people get to know me on a surface level or a few people come to know my honest and vulnerable heart?
~When I feel invisible, is it because I'm comparing myself to the stories of others around me?
These questions can quickly get to the core of my frustration, loneliness, and discontent. It is WAY too easy for me to believe that no one sees me or knows me when I'm unloading dishwasher yet again, cleaning dried yogurt off the kitchen floor, or watching the Wiggles for the 490th time this week. I can look at Instagram and be reminded that everyone else has these crazy, amazing lives that are filled with successful businesses, starbucks coffee dates with their BFFs, and beautiful clothes. In an instant, I'm spiraling into the belief that I am invisible and missing out.
Anyone else with me?
Here's what I propose. (And I'm preaching this to myself.)
Let's quit allowing ourselves to believe that "being known" means being the one with the most friends/best photos/biggest business.
Let's choose to believe that intimate, authentic friendships ARE more fulfilling that having thousands of "followers" or "likes."
Let's embrace "staying in our lane," celebrate our current roles, and trust the story that God has given us to live out.
If you are feeling invisible, can I share something with you? It's a truth that I hold onto above all else.
You are KNOWN without having to do, say, or be anything.
You are KNOWN by the One who created you, loves you, and SEES you.
That's a truth that I need to cling to every single day.
I bought this necklace a few months ago, because I needed the reminder.
Praying, my friends, that you would be able to rest, first and foremost, in this truth.
Can I propose something else?
When the days come where you are tempted to believe that you don't matter and that you are very much alone, make the choice to speak love into someone else's life. A card, phone call, text, or a little happy mail to let them know you see them and are thinking about them. Let's remind each other that we are in this together.
Let's visibly show we already know about each other. You are loved. You are seen. You are known.