And although you can never step in the shoes of someone else's challenging experiences, your heart can bleed with them.
We were born to live in a community, riding the ups and downs together. No one likes to be overlooked; even the most introverted person residing off the grid, one sitting in sweats and reading a book, needs human connection. When others fail to notice us, it can emotionally deplete us. It can cause us to withdraw and retreat, especially when we feel the offense is intentional.
When I mentioned that I was writing this article to my husband, he looked at me wide-eyed and asked if I felt overlooked. "Do you feel overlooked by me?" he asked. My response, combined with a typical southern woman's mean mug, was, "No. It is not always about you." We've been married seventeen years, y'all. What can I say? I went on to explain that several times in my life, I've felt unseen, overlooked, or passed over in different relational areas. Some instances have seemed intentional, while others are just part of life.
The beautiful thing about life's trials is that they drive compassion deep into your blood. And although you can never step in the shoes of someone else's challenging experiences, your heart can bleed with them. You can embrace them warmly, sit with them, and listen. It gives you a different perspective, a more down-on-your-knees, humble level.
Whether you have been overlooked in friendships, relationships, sports, careers, or especially by the church, rest in the fact that you are never ignored by Jesus. Friend, I know we aren't sitting on the same couch, but consider this my giant teddy bear hug for you. I may not be able to see you, but I know the One who does, and I pray these bits of encouragement give you restored hope.
1. God Sees You When No One Else Does
Among the many names of God that describe His perfect character, I find El Roi to be one of the most comforting. It means "The God who sees me" (Genesis 16:13). While you may feel invisible, know that God sees you. Hagar was the woman in the Bible who attributed this name to God, and she is the only character in the Bible to name God. She was pregnant and alone in the wilderness, running from Sarah's cruelty and jealousy when the angel of the Lord visited her (Genesis 16). Friend, there is no place on earth you can ever run from God's compassionate presence.
2. God Hears You When No One Else Does
I love how the Bible uses different names to explain the perfect harmony of God's character and gives meaning to most biblical characters' names. An article on Faith Gateway explains the significance of biblical characters' names. "Many biblical accounts explain the meaning of a person's name, and those names were significant to who those individuals were or who they were to become. In Jewish tradition, a child's name was revealed in the same ceremony in which they were circumcised, a sign of the covenant."
Continuing with the story of Hagar, the angel of the Lord says in Genesis 16:10 that the Lord will increase her descendants so much they will be too numerous to count. "The angel of the Lord also said to her: 'You are now pregnant, and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery'" (Genesis 16:11).
When we put the story together with the meaning of the characters' names, it paints the most beautiful picture for those of us who have felt neglected or abused. God takes this enslaved Egyptian, whose name means "forsaken," and gives her a massive lineage through her son, Ishmael, whose name means "God hears." Sister, God sees you, hears you, and knows the number of hairs on your head (Luke 12:7).
3. God Loves You Always
My prayer journal contains a box that says, "Lord teach me to…." I often ask the Lord to teach me to love unconditionally. Some days it is hard to love without conditions or judgments, especially when hurt, but I try my best. I inevitably fail at times, but I pray again and start over the next day. We are all a work in progress, but God is always the same (Hebrews 13:8). His love for us and our love for him is termed agape in Greek and is the highest form of love.
Knowing that God never changes and God is love (1 John 4:7-8), we can concur that God will always love His children even though we don't deserve it. After all, God sent His only Son to pay the price for our sins because He loves us so much that He wants to spend eternity with us.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16, NIV)
4. God Always Has a Perfect Purpose for You
The most notable story in the Bible of someone who is overlooked is King David. As kids, we hear the highlight reels of David's life—like when David defeated Goliath with only a rock and a sling. But before becoming king, David started as a young shepherd boy. His dad, Jesse, didn't remember to call him to the line-up when Samuel came to anoint David as king. Talk about overlooked! Yet, God set apart this lowly shepherd boy for a great purpose. While we may not be destined for earthly royalty or fame, God hand-picked us to fulfill a unique role in His kingdom.
5. God Wants to Hear from You
I've been passed over for jobs and writing opportunities throughout my life. I've been overlooked by peers, boys, and the church. When I was younger, these occurrences would rip my heart out. As I've matured, I've realized God often opens and closes doors because He has something better in store or is protecting me from harm. Not to say it doesn't bring about distress and discouragement anymore, but I've grown to trust in His plan even when I don't understand (Proverbs 3:5-6).
On some of those loneliest days and nights, God was the only One I knew could hear and wanted to hear from me. And we would talk. Sometimes, He would answer with an overwhelming feeling of peace to get me through the next day. Some prayers have gone unanswered still, and some were responded to many years later. But there is a prayer He answered with a phone call right after the "Amen" rolled off my tongue:
It was New Year's Eve, and I was a sixteen-year-old who felt invisible to boys. Alone in my room, crying and depressed, I asked God to send me my soul mate. Two seconds later, the phone rang, and a boy I had been crushing on said, "Hello," and invited me to a party. At that party, I met a new boy who made me forget about my crush who called me. We've been together twenty-three years this New Year's Eve, and I never felt overlooked by him.
Friend, prayer is not always answered instantaneously or as we wish, but His plans are only in place to prosper you. So keep talking to the One who sees and hears you.
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/fizkes
Darcie Fuqua is a Business Analyst, Auburn Grad (War Eagle!), Christian blogger & podcast host, and mental health advocate. She is from the deep south of Alabama, where she currently resides with her husband, two energetic fun-loving boys, and a dog named Charlie. She loves sinking her toes in the sand, cuddling with her boys, and having great conversations over a table of good food. You can read more of her writing on her website www.leightonlane.com and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram. Check out Darcie’s latest project as cohost of Therapy in 10.