Sometimes I feel invisible.
Once upon a time, appreciative looks followed in the wake of my stylish clothes and legs-that-went-on-forever, red hair to my waist and the perfume of self-confidence that was almost visible to the naked eye. I laughed loudly, flirted easily, offered opinions without thinking and, did I mention? The boys wanted to marry me.
Because, once, I was young and rather pretty and interesting. (Can you say this without sounding prideful?) And I knew that men were looking, that I was desirable, sexy even.
I was noticed.
And I liked it.
(Also, I liked having the belly of a pop star – even if it was just for one brief shining moment.)
And now I feel invisible sometimes.
When I go to the mall, with the baby strapped to my chest and the toddler clinging to my hand and the preschooler walking two steps in front of us while I plead for her to “wait up,” no one is looking at me with appreciation. When I dash out to get groceries by myself (which is a great moment of the week, leaving me feeling all rebellious and bad ass), no one tries to flirt with me. When I push my stroller at the park, I’m passed by packs of girls, pairs of young women, and I feel frumpy in my yoga pants but pretty sure that I can’t wear those cute little outfits anymore without looking like I’m trying too hard, another woman in her 30s that wants to be a teenager again.
I feel like I am just one of the crowd now, standing here on the edges of feminine middle-age.
And beyond the physical beauty, the world doesn’t notice me or pay attention. Because what does just another mum have to offer? To the church? to government? to pastors and ministry leaders? to intellectuals? to poets? to writers? to artists? to a celebrity and physical appearance obsessed culture? We’re easily dismissed by the labels or the appearance, our gender or experiences.
There are those that think that I’m not as competent as you because of my choices. I know it’s hard to believe, but I promise that when I put on my yoga pants and nursing bra, I did not take off my brain and my passionate soul.
The eyes of the world (and the church?) just slide right over and past me though, just another tired mother, clearly not much to offer.
I remember after one of our miscarriages, a pastor that I respected sought me out at church. It was crowded and loud especially near the stage where we stood. She crouched close to me, held my hands in both of her lined ones and whispered that she had a word from God for me. She said, I looked across the room at you and God showed me that your heart is broken and – she lifted my chin and looked me straight in the face – he wants me to tell you that you are not forgotten.
You are not forgotten.
This morning in my chair with my littlest girl curled up against me, nursing, and my Bible laid open, I read, “Can a mother forget the infant at her breast, walk away from the baby she bore? But even if mothers forget, I’d never forget you – never.
Look, I’ve written your names on the backs of my hands.*”
My name is there, clearly visible.
Right beside your name, you are clearly visible.
There is a voice crying in our wilderness: You are loved.
I see you, Beloved.
You are loved. You are beautiful.
*Reference from Isaiah 49:15-16