A letter to the overlooked

Dear friend,

I see you. I see you over in the corner, avoiding the eye of others because you are afraid no one will make eye contact. I see you trying to pretend like it doesn’t matter that you are standing alone. I see you trying to busy yourself to avoid the embarrassment of appearing rejected—the pre-emptive isolation. Because to look around and not find any friendly smiles or warm glances or kind words is too painful. I understand that the isolation of kicking a dust ball in the corner is less painful than the vulnerability of standing tall and being overlooked.

I see you. I see you wrangling children at the grocery store. I see how you are fighting to parent with grace and to encourage your littles toward kindness. I imagine you going home, exhausted and worn out, yet just beginning the day, fighting in these lonely trenches and wondering if you will ever see any fruit from your labor. I can imagine the tears that come at night, the prayers constantly lifted to Jesus, the frustration when that tiny hand appears under the bathroom door crack when you were just hoping for 2 minutes alone.

I see you. I see you struggling to communicate, frantically searching for words in your brain that will express your needs and your questions. I see how you are confused by this culture and trying to figure it out, how to dress, how to shop, how to act, how to fit in. I see your shame because of the eyes boring into you as you fumble in a culture that is not yours, as you fight to speak a language that is not easy, as you wonder if you can keep your head above water and not drown from the loneliness of living in a foreign country.

I see you. I see your courage in coming to church alone, in looking for a place to sit, in signing up to volunteer, in trying to mingle during fellowship hour. I see you wanting to carve a place for yourself as a single in an institution that focuses on families. I see the strength is required to just show up every Sunday when there is no one to encourage you. I see how tough it must be to continue coming week after week when what faces you is the hard work of pursuing and loving others only to go home to an empty house where no one waits to pour into you.

I see you. I see how to go to work every single day, sacrificing your dreams to provide for your family. I see how weary you are when you come home, how excited you are to see your family. I see how discouraged you are that no one seems to understand what you’ve given up, and no one pursues your heart in the sacrifice. I see how you battle against comparing your life to your friends on social media. I see how you wonder if the drudgery of family life and marriage is worth it.

I see you. I see your tears and loneliness. I see how grief hangs like a weight around your shoulders and affects every moment of your every day, even though people around you seem to have forgotten your loss. I see how unbearable it is to wake up every morning and to pretend like you are excited about life. I see your pain and confusion in interacting with people who can’t remember to ask how you are doing.

I see you. I see how you serve every single Sunday, putting your heart into loving others. I see how you pray about it throughout the week and do your best to be excellent and pray that you are an encouragement to even just one person. I see how no one seems to notice your sacrifice, no one seems to understand your prep work, no one seems to be any better off from the service that you lovingly provide regularly. I see the pain in your wondering if your efforts to bless others are a waste of time, if you are too small or meaningless to bring joy to others.

I see you. I see the pain you suffer chronically, relief nowhere in sight. I see how you desperately want to do the things the rest of us take for granted, things like walk to the mailbox or drive to the store. I see how you are fighting every day for grace and to not be defined by your pain or illness. I see how while you don’t want to be defined by your pain or illness, you also are desperate for others to acknowledge your pain and understand some of the journey you are on.

I see you. I see how lonely you are, how despite your best efforts, you have few friends, how you can’t seem to find intimacy. I see how you turn toward Jesus and take refuge in his love but still crave human relationship. I see you checking your phone when you hear a beep, hoping that maybe someone actually texted you. I see how you pursue others only to be rejected and overlooked again and again.

Friend, I see you, but God sees you and knows you. He knows your innermost pain and hurts and rejections and fears. He knows these things and he loves you. He understands being overlooked. He understands not having others to pursue you or affirm you or make you feel special. But despite what you are lacking relationally, God thinks you are special. He created you to be loved! He created you in order to delight in you. He created you believing that through Christ, you were worth the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross in order to have relationship with you. I call you Friend, but God calls you Child. He sees you, he knows you, he loves you, he will never overlook you.

7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
— Psalm 139