From Seen to Forgotten

Submitted by Anonymous (and received with grace):

A year and a half ago, I thought I had “arrived.” I was there, in the Promised Land of my destiny, sitting in the dirt with some of the most invisible – disabled children in remote African villages. The delight of teaching a child considered worthless even by their own families. Their delight in simply being seen, acknowledged as valuable.

Now I’m here sitting in my own patch of dirt – depression, despair, fighting sometimes daily to simply not give up. I’m so far from my Promised Land that there’s no sight of it. The thought of it like scrapes like a wire brush across the rawness of my soul.

To some once close friends, I’m now the invisible one. I’ve gone from being applauded for seeing others to being overlooked in my pain. Perhaps my struggle challenges their faith, or maybe they just think I’m weak. I don’t know, because with invisibility comes silence.

One, a leader in the church, asked what happened. I trusted her enough to share the truth. She hasn’t spoken to me since. (Fortunately, other leaders have been understanding and supportive).

It’s so easy, too easy, to give up. In many ways, mental illness is the black sheep of charismatic Christianity. Sufferers are deemed either demonized or lacking in faith – both qualifiers for invisibility. Add to it my years of abuse causing hypervigilence and distrust – is there any hope?

And yet – dare I believe You can still do something with me? Can You see me like we saw them? And make a difference?

Can You still do something with this life that feels pointless?

Jake Hamilton sings the lines, “Every story shares Your glory…. Happy endings all depend on when you close the book, so don’t close the book.”

Can this story – the one I never saw coming, the one I despise to the core of my being – can this story share Your glory?

Can I learn to see what You want in this time rather than everything I’m looking at? Can it become an opportunity instead of feeling like a failure and ending? Could I bring hope to others left unseen by the Church, thinking that means they’re unseen by God?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this, it’s the mercy and compassion of God. Maybe as I share that with others, the sting of invisibility will begin to fade. And I can learn to be content simply being seen by Him.

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    The Conversation

  1. Kathleen says:

    I hear you, my friend. I see you as well. I have been there, too. Wondering where God is, in the midst of the pain and depression. I can attest, the sun sits above the rain clouds. God is there, whether you can “feel” that truth or not. And the best part is, He sees you, too. He hears you, too. Jesus knows what deep anguish feels like. He is walking with you through this. Praying for you, my friend.

  2. Sheila says:

    Thank you so much for your heart and your story. I would agree with you, mental illness is a blank spot in most believers’ understanding. That is, until it is either in their own circle or we keep reading stories like yours. May God help us all to minister better, forgive when we get it wrong, and walk in his mercies every day.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and your sorrow. I wish I could physically hug you and share the Love of God. I have a teen grandchild that suffers from anxiety and depression. You are both loved by the Lord Jesus Himself and He hears your please for healing. Praying that you will experience His joy again.

  4. Barbara Gold says:

    Our Father has His plans and purposes in allowing everything that touches our lives. I am convinced that you are deeply loved by Him. You are a visible Job. Not all lives live mountaintop paths, we are deceived by our own flocks sometimes. Charles Spurgeon himself battled great depressions and what a servant of God! He is with you in this valley, and the fact that you still claim Him is a great jewel to me.
    When I lost a child in a tragic accident and spent five years in a valley of pain, many things aided but I found this reading particularly strengthening and thought of it when I read your words. Don’t know if it will speak to you but it came to my mind when I read your words. This Thing Is From Me by Laura Barter Snow .https://bibletruthpublishers.com/the-disappointments-of-life-this-thing-is-from-me/l-a-b-snow/lbd1937. You are in my prayers sister !

  5. Ginger Solomon says:

    Invisibility is not always a curse–it can be, but not always. Sometimes it’s fortuitous to be able to see without being seen.

    If I had been born in the 1800’s or earlier, I’d have been seen as a wallflower–no doubt. I have opinions I rarely express, feelings I rarely show, hurts I rarely tell anyone about. And thus it has been for as long as I remember.

    What I see from your post, and forgive me if I’ve misinterpreted your words, is that you liked helping the helpless, the unloved, the invisible. And now, you feel like you are one of them, and others are ignoring you. Sadly, our society–and this includes the church–does not wish to “get involved” in others issues. We throw money at problems, but do not put ourselves in a place to get hurt. And so, your church family has stepped away. Or did they?

    My problem isn’t how others see me, but how I see myself.

    Eight of the ten spies sent into the Promised Land had the same issue. “We are like grasshoppers to them,” they told Moses. The peoples of Canaan and the surrounding areas likely did not notice the Israelites in their midst, probably didn’t give them a second thought. But those eight looked at the people–the LARGE men–and declared themselves grasshoppers. But Joshua and Caleb–the only two allowed to go in after this debacle–said the land was ripe for the picking, literally.

    I struggle with imposing my thoughts about myself into others minds. Most times they aren’t even thinking about me. I pull away from friends because, for one reason or another, I feel slighted, hurt, angry, or whatever other feelings are bombarding me at the time. Depression lies and says we are alone, and so what we believe we look for.

    If you have ever watched the show Brain Games, you learned that we see what we are looking for. If you’ve recently bought a red car, every third or fourth car you see is red or some shade of the color. It’s what we SEE.

    When I’m depressed, I see an innocent comment as something it’s not. I misinterpret because my brain is wired to see “red cars.” And it’s hard to see beyond the red cars to the white, blue, silver, and yellow cars.

    This comment is long, but I wanted you to know you are seen, maybe not by the people in your church or your family or even any of us, but by God. He knows you intimately. Run to him. Daily, Hourly. Every minute. Every second.

    I have been at the end of my rope and called out to God. I was on my knees in my bedroom, beyond tired, beyond frustrated, beyond myself. And I prayed and worshiped. I needed something tangible from him that day. And I got it. Even now, over a decade later, I tear up because I can STILL feel the hug he gave me that day. A physical, tangible hug with no one else in the room. He wrapped his arms around me, filling me with his strength.

    I highly recommend the song Even If by Mercy Me. A few years ago, I had to have brain surgery. God gave me SUPERNATURAL peace during that time, but when I faltered, I listened to this song. Here’s the chorus:

    I know You’re able and I know You can
    Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
    But even if You don’t
    My hope is You alone
    I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
    Would all go away if You’d just say the word
    But even if You don’t
    My hope is You alone

    I believe it is taken from Daniel 3:16-18 – “16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” (NLT)

    I’m sorry this is so long, but my heart cries out for you, and I wanted to encourage you to remember that God loves you. No matter what anyone else says, does, implies, He loves you. He is faithful.

    He is not finished with you yet. Maybe your Promised Land isn’t in the fields of Africa, maybe it’s in your church nursery. Wherever it is, I pray you find it and are content to live life fully right where you’re planted.

    Many Blessings,

  6. Anonymous says:

    The terrible trials we go through often become the word of our testimony for others. What you said at the end, learning to be content simply by being seen by Him, cling to that! That is all you need. As you rest assured in that, He will bring you to a place of being an encouragement to others and He will place people in your life who need to hear your story. So stay strong. He’s in the waiting with you!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Much of this speaks to my current state. I used to be very active in my church, a leader and servant in many ministries. Then the unthinkable and unspeakable happened. Not mental illness but another subject that is never spoke of in church circles. I retreated initially because who do you tell something like this? I didn’t really want any one to know. Then I shared with an elder because he could tell something was wrong and asked directly if I wanted to talk. I told him, he listened. and then I didn’t hear another word from
    him. Three years have gone by. My faith was derailed, working on getting some back but fear now that it has been too long and God has given up on me.