For nearly 15 years she was invisible. Invisible to the world that took the time to stare and judge and have opinions about the people who raised her. Later they would turn from or look past (actually, they looked right THROUGH) the girl in foster homes. She was there…but they didn’t actually SEE her. If they would have, they would have seen a girl that was bruised, but not broken. Put down but not destroyed. Someone fighting and reaching, trying everything to dig out of the pit. They would have heard her loud voice begging for change, but how could they? No one hears invisible children.
Its time for a change.
I’m not invisible to the world. They see my typical American family as we go to our church, wear our clean pressed clothes, reside in our well kept home with the wrap around porch and white pillars. The world sees people like me. They see the mother who speaks kindly to her children in public places. The one who has her makeup on and her stray hairs tucked neatly back into her whispy ponytail. They see her serving where she can for ministry or her kids school and holding hands with her husband across the table at a local restaurant on their date night. I am certainly not invisible. I’m not complaining that they see me…it was always my hope!
What they don’t see is the child behind the scruffy and out of sorts man and woman. The ones that have on the same clothes from days prior and haven’t showered in the same amount of time. They look “poor”, disheveled, probably high or drunk, or a combination of both. Though they catch glances from the corner of your eye, you don’t dare look at them, and you certainly don’t notice the face hidden behind them. The little girl that walks with them trying to stay silent and out of the way. You never saw her.
A few years later she is still invisible, a few more beatings under her belt. She has been playing in the woods day in and day out for months to try to save herself from the screaming and erotic behaviors of the man and woman who drink every day and fight every night. She slips out for school before they wake and slips back in well after the sun has settled over the horizon, just as dusk begins to darken the neighborhood. Its okay that you don’t see her, she is trying to be seen as little as possible.
She is a teenager now. She is an A student making C’s and D’s. She gets picked on and sometimes hit at school or pushed into a locker, the bullies seem to see her. She deals the drugs she stole from her parents at the school bus stop and uses the money to slip into the gas station on her walk home to buy a little food or a soda, usually slipping an unpaid for pack of gum or an extra candybar into her oversized coat pocket for later. She knows its wrong, but in her world everyone takes and nothing is ever given, so you learn to make it on your own. You watch out for yourself because no one else is going to be there to do it for you. You learn to be “smart”. The world doesn’t see her, so she learns to use that for her advantage. No one even saw her when she spent the night under the bridge at the local park…its official, she’s invisible.
They are beating her again. This time is different. She is ready to get out and ready to listen to the voice inside of her that promises there is better out there for her. She runs. Foster care comes next, but quickly she sees that foster care is just another way to silence the voices of hurting children. She goes through many homes before feeling accepted in one. Then another. Someone listened as she spoke, and this time, they actually HEARD her. She speaks more. Its beginning to happen…people are starting to see her. By her 5th foster home, she has become visible. The foster parents see her. The teachers see her. Her peers see her. She will navigate through one more Foster home and then to her forever family that will mold her and shape her into the woman she will become, all because they see her now. They see ME now.
HE saw me all along.
It’s clearly been a long time coming, my collection of life experience and perspectives. I think now, for one reason or another, with my heart ripped wide open, I am finally ready to REALLY share and hopefully bring your attention to the Invisible people of the world as I see them. I will use this place to share my thoughts, my story, my life (past and present). People see me now, so its a great time to divert their attention away from me and onto them! I just want you to see them, take time to pray for them, and if you ever can…to help them. Sometimes even a smile at that invisible child standing behind the drunken dirty people in the store, or investing in a conversation with the touseled child sitting alone at your childrens school lunch table, OR praying over the idea that you might be capable of sharing your abundance with someone invisible….every gesture, every prayer, every smile…it matters. Who we are and what we do matters. Sharing my story matters. Finding Grace matters. Loving others matters. Seeing them matters.