Invisible Woman
Shari Braendel

"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." Romans 12:10 (NIV)

Margaret was new to the area and decided to visit a few local churches and Bible studies before she chose where to attend regularly. Unfortunately, it turned out the same everywhere she went: no one acknowledged her.

They didn't even seem to see her. She was left feeling like a small fish in a big sea. "How am I ever going to meet anyone, let alone make a friend?" she thought to herself, as she uncomfortably poured herself a cup of coffee in the foyer of a church.

Recently, I had a conversation with Margaret and she reminisced with me about the time she felt so alone in that foyer full of women. She made me giggle when she revealed how she entertained herself during those lonely times by wearing the same outfit on purpose for weeks in a row. She was convinced that it just didn't matter because no one would remember her anyway.

Although Margaret felt alone and invisible, she was not. Jesus said, "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows" (Luke 12:6-7, NIV). Not only did God see her that day, but He knew what kind of hair day she was having!

I know how Margaret felt. My son started a new school this year and I found myself in a similar situation. As I attended my first PTA meeting, I looked around the room and didn't know a soul. I noticed I wasn't the only one by myself. There were other women who appeared not to know anyone either. Many were sitting alone, pretending to be at ease, yet not looking upward or outward; just awkwardly tending to their refreshments. Everyone else was talking and laughing in groups of two's and three's, unaware that there were isolated women in the room.

How do we become so involved with ourselves that we forget about others who might be new or lonely? I think about Margaret's story and I wonder, "Am I so caught up with what's going on with me that I forget it's not all about me?" Perhaps meetings, Bible studies or holiday parties aren't all about the girlfriends I already know, but about reaching out to someone who is searching for a welcoming friend.

I've been challenging myself to look beyond my familiar circle, and I want to invite you to do the same. Wherever you go, look around the room and find someone who is by herself. Walk up to her and say hello. Ask some questions about how long she's been coming and how you might help her feel connected and welcomed in that particular situation. You may just be the one that helps her realize she's not invisible – she's noticed – by God and by you.

Dear Lord, I pray as I go about my business that you will help me to become more aware of others. I pray that I seek out those who feel uncomfortable or who might be new. Help me step outside myself and approach someone who needs to be noticed. I pray I realize it's not all about me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
A Life That Says Welcome, Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others by Karen Ehman

Visit Shari’s blog – A Beautiful Place

Connecting Women: A Relationship Guide for Leaders in Women's Ministry by Linda Lesniewski

Application Steps:
As you prepare to leave your home today, tell God you are willing to be used for His purposes. Tell Him you are ready for an assignment to welcome someone.

Ask your women's ministry leader or PTA advisor (or whatever group you're involved in) if there is a welcoming committee. Offer to help or head this up so no one has to feel like Margaret did. As a matter of fact, that's exactly what my friend Margaret did!

Reflections:
Do I feel like Margaret sometimes? Remember whose you are. The Lord says in Isaiah 49:16, "See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands" (NIV).

Is there a holiday party coming up that you would rather avoid? Go to it looking for the plans and the new friend God has for you there.

Power Verses:
Zephaniah 3:17, "The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." (NIV)

Acts 17:28, "In Him we live and move and have our being." (NIV)

© 2009 by Shari Braendel. All rights reserved.

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17 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that we should look for people that are lonely, it is God's will. But, often at church it is difficult to spot new people especially in a larger church. I think Margaret should get over herself and stop expecting humans to fullfill her needs, humans will always let you down. Besides, we are there to worship Christ and not get noticed.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As humans, we have a need to be needed, to be noticed; to have relationships with others. I accept the challenge to step out and to be that encourager Paul talks about. What a way we can show that we love Jesus and we are loving our neighbors as He first loved us.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a "Margaret" in my church. I was invited to get to know some of the women of the church at a girls night out dinner. All of these women seemed to know each other and enjoy each others company. I was introduced to some, spoke some words and then they went on with themselves like I didn't exist. Sure I tried to engage in their conversations but it just wasn't happening. I wasn't being "accepted" into their group. This has nothing to do with me personally wanting to get noticed and have my needs fullfilled by others. This is me trying to get involved with the women's group at my church. For some it is not an easy thing to do. And for many like me they just go on and choose to not get involved. It is important for woman of the church to not get caught up in just themselves. This is not doing the work of Christ. No one wants to go to gatherings and sit alone. What fun is that? Where is the love of Christ? I can do more on my own and help others through my work, prayer and daily Bible study. And this is what I have chosen to do. I have a wonderful relationship with our Lord. I just don't belong to my women's group at church. Perhaps something will change one day but for now I will be content.

Anonymous Ramona said...

Thank you so much, I really needed to hear this this morning. Today I will go out and find a person who feels alone, when I have found myself in that same situation many times. We need to start acting more like "GOD" and truly help our loney & hurting people know we care & do have an heart of love for mankind. Thank You Again.
Ramona :)

Anonymous Sean Chang said...

Indeed, man was never created to be alone. God meant for each and every one of us to fellowship with one another, as well as with Him. And even if some people are at times 'invisible' to other people, the Lord says that He knows everyone single one of us by name. It is by knowing our Father's deep love for us, and through revealing the Truth about our Lord Jesus Christ that we can be filled with His love and dispel all forms of loneliness in the world around us.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try being a spouse of someone who is on staff of a church and your always alone. I am an introvert and thought I had three close friends. Well, one has moved, one is consumed w/life issues and the other told me not long ago that I was a easy friend to have since I wasn't needy. I've spent many days the last several months praying and seeking God's direction and help to deal with the loneliness that I feel, especially at church.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too have felt so alone at church that i have cried during service. I know i am there to worship god but i still need to feel like i belong. when i went to sunday school class i had one or two people speak and it felt wonderful i wanted to let them know how much they touched me but i never did. I have been away from church for a while and am having a hard time going back but some things have happened just yesterday i was asked when was i coming back that and a card has givin me more hope. Never under estimate the power of speech on someones life and giving them hope.

Blogger Rob and Cheryl said...

This is the second time this week that God has revealed this message to me. In Bible study earlier we discussed that there are two types of women: one says "Here I am" and the other says, "There you are." The first is so focused on herself - her problems, her struggles, her house, her hair, her children, her job, and on and on it goes. She never looks around to lend a hand or offer help to those around her. The other enters a room and seeks to listen to others, encourage, compliment, and to serve. What kind of woman are you? What would it take to become a "There you are" woman?

Blogger Susanne said...

Did you write this for me. I moved about 5 months ago from the northeast to the south and I have found it very hard to meet some friends. I feel very alone and I have a 14 month old and I am pregnant with twins. I was crying last night before bedtime because I felt so alone and trapped. I know that God loves me and he is with me, but God created us to have friendships and relationships and I am just having a hard time creating them. I need to remember that God loves me and knows me needs. Thanks for the reminder!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was looking for a church when I moved and I selected the church I now attend because people did pay attention to me. The pastor even wrote me a note welcoming me after! I felt excited about the active fellowship in that church. I need to remember to give others what those church members gave me on my first Sunday there.

Blogger Angela Dell said...

Dear God,

Thank you that you always notice me even when i feel alone and isoated. god as I read this I found myself thinking of myself as that individual who doesn't know anybody, who in this new town and this new life am just on the fringe of being a part. Thank you for the opportunities that you ahve given me to step out and be a part, thank you that you put women in my path who I could join with and feel at ease. I pray that I can walk with righteous confidence knowing I am always noticed by you. I also ask that you give me the courage to be the one to say hello to step out and be friendly even though my natural tendency is to shy away from that. I need you and I thank you for the opportunities that you will give me in the future. Help me to recognize them and not to give off the air that I am fine alone that I don't need anyone to be friendly, but to be the friendly one. Thank you for the woman that you have gifted to step out towards me, help me to receive their friendship with open arms. Bless me with friends at this post, friends that can last a lifetime, show me. Amen

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can so identify with the topic of today's devotional. I moved to a new area 4 years ago. I found a church and immediately joined women's bible study. After making a sincere effort for over a year, I was still the "invisible woman" and would often cry all the way home, I was so disappointed and hurt.
I should look for another church, but I don't think I can handle another disappointment.

Blogger Kiranmayi said...

This is great message! thank you very much for this impacting word.

Anonymous Jennifer said...

I can totally relate to this devotion. So many times I feel lonely and invisible at church. I've been at the same church for over seventeen years and although people may speak to me as they pass me they don't really take the time to talk to me. I've hardly ever been invited out with them and it hurts when I hear those who I consider to be friends talk about going out to eat after morning service. It's always ben hard for me to start conversations with others because I never know what to say and also because I'm blind. I never know who I'm talking to if I start the conversation. Do you know how embarrassing it can be to think you're talking to one person only to find out it's someone else? The ones who might say "Praise the Lord" to me in church as they pass by don't call or really email me outside of church. Unless it's to send me a story of some sort but not to see how I'm doing or to see if I need any type of help. I sang in a few choirs but still no one really spoke to me. I can't put this all on others. I have to get over my fear about talking to people and ask God to give me the words to say. That's easier said then done. Now that I'm not working perhaps I will join our women's ministry and see where I might fit in.

Anonymous Suzie Eller said...

It is difficult to spot new people at church, but perhaps this is a gentle reminder to take the time to look.
It doesn't take much to connect with someone. "Let me introduce you to..." or "Did you know we have this group?" or "Can I show you where the classroom is?".
The problem with instantly dismissing this as her problem is that you or I might miss out on an amazing God-opportunity to love another person into the kingdom. Or meet a new friend... or encourage another women.
Just my two cents,

Suzie Eller, Proverbs 31 Ministries

Blogger Shari Braendel said...

My heart has broken over the comments. First of all, I appreciate each of you taking the time to write about how you have felt in a similar situation. I think as women we have such a huge responsibility to each other. If you are a women's ministry leader and you happen to read these comments I PRAY and BEG you to create a team of women, or perhaps just one each week who stands in the lobby looking for women they've never met. Don't be embarrassed if someone says they've been at the church for 5 years...just ask them for forgiveness for not noticing them before. Let's be real and honest! And for those of you who have been hurt by cliques and women in the church, I am SO sorry. Please know there are women who want to get to know you who are probably in the very same situation you are in. I pray we all step outside of ourselves and start to look around at the hurting women around us. Thank you all again, for responding to this devotional.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember that we went on a trip once and I visited a small church that taught the Bible. I went in and came out and no one said one word to me. I came there looking for comfort and solace because my husband and I weren't getting along. We were visiting his family who didn't see the need to go to church and I felt so lonely. I remember driving around with them. I saw that church and made up my mind I would go on Sunday. I watched carefully so I wouldn't forget where it was and how to get back to my husband's family. But you know what, the Lord was there with me anyway. But I do always make sure I greet people I do not know. Lots of times I don't know whether they are on vacation or have been coming for awhile but since I don't know them I make it a point to greet them and talk to them. It is so hard to be needy and alone. You just never know what is is in the heart of a person.

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