When You Feel You Don't Matter

Luisa Collopy

Contributing Writer
Updated May 28, 2024
When You Feel You Don't Matter

We can start to heal and let God create a new life for us.

A pastry chef was vying for a spot in the finals. When asked why he chose to bake a banana cream pie to qualify, he said, “I was orphaned as a baby and grew up in the foster care system. I didn’t have a birthday until I was between seven and nine years old. A social worker brought me a banana cream pie to celebrate. It was the first time I was seen and heard.” 

When You Feel You Don’t Matter

Krista, the third child, always felt that she got lost in the shuffle. Her older siblings were years older than her. Their mom also decided to start her own business around the time she was a toddler. Sorting through the many family albums years later, she felt that her collection was only a third of what everybody else had. She often commented that she probably was adopted because there were not as many photos to prove her existence in some years. 

Many more like Krista first start to feel invisible in their own homes. When there are more siblings, there seems to be a need to vie for parents’ attention. Even an only child thrown into the mix with cousins will begin to fight for significance, perhaps by speaking louder than usual to be heard or doing crazy stunts to be seen. 

Sometimes those feelings of insignificance can just be unwanted thoughts. We can’t deny the fact that we have those moments when we overthink things or create our own conclusions when there is no clear reason to do so. And when we feed and give in to negativity— the “Woe is me!” mentality—it brings stress and anxiety. Or the extreme can happen—constantly proving that you are worthy and better than others, which also brings stress and anxiety. But what is sad is what happened to the pastry chef, who, as a young child, moved from one foster home to another. He didn’t only have time to think about being unwanted; he lived it. 

How Circumstances Play in Our Stories

Bible Story #1: Hagar, the Egyptian slave of Sarah, was considered a nobody in the household until Sarah saw her as a good candidate to “obtain children by her” (Genesis 16:2). When Hagar conceived and saw that she had something that Sarah couldn’t have, she made Sarah feel worthless. 

Abraham, Sarah’s husband, was thrown into this contention between the women. He didn’t want any part in this, so he said to his wife, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please” (v.6). And with this permission, Sarah was free to put Hagar in her rightful place. Hagar was a servant, and she was the mistress. Sarah had the upper hand and treated her badly. Pregnant Hagar ran away!

Bible Story #2: Leah wasn’t planning on getting married. She was just one of the invited guests to the wedding feast, “but in the evening [Laban] took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her” (Genesis 29:23). Laban’s action caused trouble in the family because Jacob loved Rachel and served seven years for her hand. Imagine how Leah must have felt when she heard Jacob’s words: “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” (v.25). And what was Laban’s solution? “Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years” (v.27).

How Leah must have felt bad about herself! She knew that her sister Rachel was loved by Jacob more than her. And she had to live in a nightmare.

Bible Story #3: King Saul and his son, Jonathan, David’s best friend, had died in battle. Jonathan was survived by his five-year-old son, who, in the nurse’s haste to leave and flee with the child, accidentally dropped him. As a result, young Mephibosheth became crippled in the feet.

David, now installed as king, wanted to honor Jonathan, his dearly departed friend. He asked, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” (2 Samuel 9:3). Mephibosheth’s name was given.

We often have good intentions in life. Sarah realized that her age was a detriment to her child-bearing years even though God said she would bear a child and decided to make it possible with her own plan. Laban lost himself in their custom and saw the not-so-good future facing his older daughter, Leah, and took matters into his own hands. Mephibosheth's unfortunate accident happened when the nurse only wanted to protect him from possible retaliation and death due to his family lineage. 

In the case of our pastry chef, he became an orphan. His parents didn’t plan on dying at the same time. As for Krista, if her proof of validity is having old photos to look at, perhaps she is missing the point of what belonging to a family means.

But God Sees and Hears

Someone posed the question, “How would I act if I believed I was loved?” Is believing that we are loved a way that we can change our perspective of being invisible to being seen and heard in a way we think we deserve? 

Hagar encountered the Angel of the Lord by a spring of water in the wilderness, saying, “Return to your mistress and submit to her. I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered in multitude” (Genesis 16:9-10). She was given a command and a promise. “So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing,’ for she said. ‘Truly here I have seen him who looks after me’” (v.13). She was comforted by God sending an angel and giving her assurance. She obeyed and went back to her mistress, not knowing if she would be mistreated or not, and gave birth to her son Ishmael.

God saw Leah’s plight and blessed her with sons, while her sister Rachel remained barren. She named her firstborn Reuben “because the Lord has looked upon my affliction” (Genesis 29:32). The next one was named Simeon “because the Lord has heard that I am hated” (v.33). She gave birth to Levi. And her last son, Judah, made her declare, “This time I will praise the Lord” (v.35). Leah discovered that she was never alone. God had been taking care of her. He gave her the precious gifts of her sons, her pride and joy.

As for Mephibosheth, he was brought to the palace. King David said, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always” (2 Samuel 9:7). The crippled orphan received honor and glory and was treated like one of King David’s sons. He experienced the kindness of God through David’s actions.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” We often become fearful of our circumstances, especially when our plans look more like failures or when stumbling blocks make it difficult for us to reach our goals. We pray to God but go into panic mode—two opposing actions—and immediately set out to rely on what other choices we have in our own toolbelt instead of being still and waiting to hear from God. In our haste to make decisions, we cause more harm not just to ourselves but to others too. 

We matter to God! He sees and hears us. “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and he will not do it? Or has he spoken, and he will not fulfill it?” (Numbers 23:19). “[God’s] word is truth” (John 17:17). And if we operate in His truth, we don’t have to write our sorry scripts that express our flawed thinking of invisibility and insignificance. We can start to heal and let God create a new life for us. He sees and hears us.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Jelena Stanojkovic

Luisa Collopy is an author, speaker and a women’s Bible study teacher. She also produces Mula sa Puso (From the Heart) in Tagalog (her heart language), released on FEBC Philippines stations. Luisa loves spending time with her family over meals and karaoke!