When You Feel Invisible

by | Mar 6, 2013 | Uncategorized


I sit in the passenger seat, wiping my sweatshirt over my streaky sunglasses while H locks up the beach house. He crawls in behind the steering wheel and I push the hollow sigh right out of me. “You know, I didn’t get any photos of the girls,” I tell him.

“She probably wanted it that way,” he says with a grin.

“Yeah,” I shake my head. “You’re probably right.”

A few hours earlier, their four voices trail off into a muffled high pitched giggle as they close the door behind them on the first floor of the beach house. I whip my head around, look to see if she took it with her. But my camera, it’s still lying on the kitchen table in the same place.

My daughter doesn’t want me to take photos of her anymore. It was my last ditch effort to capture her seventeenth birthday celebration with three of her friends. I assured her several times it was okay to take my camera on their beach walk before the four hour car ride back home. Capture photos the way she wants to remember the day. And at least there would be something.

I pick up the camera, carry it outside and wait on the second floor deck watching for the crown of their heads beneath. “Hey girls,” I call out when I see their braided locks. My voice startles their jaunt down the steps under a tree canopy, but they keep on walking.

Not one of them looks up at the sound of my voice.

Am I invisible?

Poised with the camera propped up in my hands, I watch as they cross the street, parading single file up the sandy dune and slowly disappear fanning out on shore. And she never looks back.


There is a tendency to think that when you feel invisible it means you’re not valuable. Lately, I’ve spent too much time looking at statistics, worrying about what I should be doing, fixated on turning heads. I’m not my best when I confuse who I am with what I do.

And the truth is I need to feel the weight of being unseen. To realize I care too much about being noticed. Even as a mother.

Because most of what we do, the way we leave our imprint on the world, will never be seen. But God sees. We are not invisible to Him.

As I feel the breeze blowing my ponytail I wonder, is God waiting for me to turn my head and smile in surrender, while I’m trying to harness time and bottle it?

Yeah, I think this is exactly the way He wanted it. No pictures, just memories of watching His girls grow up. Invisible memories made for holy eyes in a sacred spot.

Linking with Jennifer, Jen, Heather,Laura andEmily.


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    • Shelly Miller

      Humbled Eileen, thank you.

  1. TeriLynneU

    Oh Shelly, I needed this … in every way. This right here:

    “I’m not my best when I confuse who I am with what I do.”

    That is so where I’ve been. My heart needed the reminder to lean into truth and grace. I’ve been cluttering up those corners with comparison, insecurities, and even a little bit of envy. Thank you for sharing so honestly … and for giving us the freedom to be honest with you.

    • Shelly Miller

      Me too, all of those cluttering up my mental space. I lost my way and almost lost my voice. It’s diabolical isn’t it? But oh, precious grace. I’m thankful for it today. Glad you were honest Teri Lynne. We need each other.

  2. kelli woodford

    YOU DID IT!! And I love it. (not surprised.)

    oh, and btw, still chuckling about your “rise” comment . . . 😉

    • Shelly Miller

      I almost trashed it an hour ago. Glad you liked it. It was a struggle to write. Oh, just wait until we get together in real life . . .I hope we laugh until we cry!

      • kelli woodford

        that sounds like just the medicine i need. can’t wait!

  3. Ro elliott

    I love when you hear God’s whispers in many places…just this morning in one of my devotions the title was the hidden life…”The soul who is ever looking for appreciation, praise and esteem of creatures does not live alone with God.”…it is deep in every heart to be known…but what a struggle and how we trade the immediate recognition from men …which never satisfies…it is like a well with a hole in it…but if we truly look for God’s sweet and quiet “pat on the back’…we are filled to overflowing…
    I am doing the 40 reading of the bible…I thought of blogging when I read this…when David took the census…”they substituted statistics for trusting God” This can apply to money in the bank…or other things…what do I substitute for trusting God? sometimes only when we are alone with God…do we find these answers. Thanks Shelly for your honesty here…and may He continue to make His love for you more clear…just because you are…not because you do. xoxo

    • Shelly Miller

      Love your words here Ro, think they would make the introduction to a good blog post actually. The needing . . comments, kind words, affirmation, approval, anything other than God is sinister. The downward spiral to losing yourself. We live in the tension of what we need to do and faith every.single. day. At least I do.

  4. pastordt

    Love this one, Shelly. So real, and so true for all of us at one time or another. Learning to be invisible – and to welcome it at times? – that’s tough to do. You’re not really so, Shelly. She loves you a bunch. It’ll just be a while til she tells you in ways that resonate with you. It comes round again, I promise.

    • Shelly Miller

      I know she loves me Diana, and feelings don’t always tell the truth. But I realized that the way it made me feel was a hint to a deeper lie I was telling myself, that I no longer had value as her mother. And thank you for the assurance that it comes round again. We need people like you who know that to remind us when it looks the opposite.

  5. mybeautifulbelly.blogspot.com

    Wow. So beautiful. I am the mother of two little ones so do not yet feel the ache of missing a teenage daughter who is separating herself from her parents. But i know the day is coming…

    I can relate to the feeling of invisibility in my being overweight and was struck by your powerful words of needing to feel the weight of being unseen. Thank you for your vulnerability and transparency.

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you – for being honest in this comment. There are so many ways in which our circumstances can cause us to feel invisible to the world. It’s painful. Yet, we are so immensely loved and seen by God for the beauty of who we are, flaws and all. And really, I wish I could say that is enough. I want it to be.

  6. Pam

    So many times lately when I go to write a post, I find myself measuring it up to others who write so beautifully. It is crushing… and He’s speaking similarly to me about keeping the focus on what He leads and not what others are thinking…For me, I wonder if it has to do with memories of high school and trying to fit in with the popular etc. and never quite being there. Sometimes it seems like that in the blogging and writing world too… But I do know that I want to write in a way that shines His heart most of all…as you do….

    • Shelly Miller

      Crushing is a good and apt word Pam. I complain to my husband often about the way clicks form, even among Christians. And as he always says, its been that way since the beginning of time. We often gravitate toward those to whom we have affinity. But its painful when you don’t feel like you belong. And some of that, for me at least, is in my own head . . . the not measuring up. I create my own crazy standards that I can never live up to. So I have to keep my eyes on the one who knows me better than I know myself. We each have a unique message to share that only sounds like our voice. Keep the faith and keep writing in your beautiful voice Pam. I want to hear you, not someone else.

  7. Heather Kopp

    Love love love. I needed that. Hugs, friend.

    • Shelly Miller

      Love you too Heather, hugging you back.

  8. Kathi Denfeld

    This is a great reminder, Shelly. Looking forward to meeting you at Jumping Tandem.

    • Shelly Miller

      Me too Kathi. My greatest fear about that retreat is that I won’t get to spend time with each person the way I hope to. I’ve never attended something that had so many people I wanted to get to know in such a short time.

  9. laura

    I see you, friend. And you are beautiful. These things that the world defines us by…I guess they are necessary in some ways. But I’m glad we know the true Foundation that we stand on. Not shifting sands 🙂

    • Shelly Miller

      There is such tension in that Laura. The tight balance between the necessary things the world asks of us and the foundation we stand on. I wrestle with that often when it comes to writing/publishing. Thank you for seeing me, its good to be known by you.

  10. WhitneySimpson

    Something I too have struggled with recently. Lovely, thank you.

    • Shelly Miller

      Yes, I’m finding out that you and I are in good company. And just when I thought I was the only one . . . We’re never really alone in our struggles are we?

      • WhitneySimpson

        Never indeed. And, just when I thought vulnerability was scary and dangerous, it begins to feel so very safe and cozy. I believe you’ve inspired a reply post my friend. So glad to be on this journey together.

  11. Mia

    Hi Shelly
    This is so true. I just love the analogy between your daughter and our Pappa God’s children. I think He cherishes everything that comes from a heart filled with love, even just a few words, acknowledging Him. Over via Heathers.
    Much love XX

    • Shelly Miller

      A heart turned to Him is the most beautiful isn’t it Mia? No matter how tattered and torn, its a thing of captivating beauty.

  12. Paula Brown

    Oh, dear Shelly, feeling invisible does hurt. We would all be better off if we could just realize that in His eyes, we DO matter. It is the honest reality of your words that resonates. “Everyone” feels it in different ways. On the eve of Murielle’s 17th birthday, may you truly realize you are NOT invisible; but have been key to helping others not feel it! Self-doubt………..the creator of invisibility!!! The opposite of invisibility is feeling the love and I hope you do!

    • Shelly Miller

      I know we all feel it in different ways. And our feelings often lie. I do feel loved, thank you.

  13. DeanneMoore

    I read a book recently called “Embracing Obscurity.” The author was Anonymous. Jeff and I read it and discussed it on a 600 mile trip along I-40 a few weeks ago. Thought if you ever think of doing another book club, this book could either have the comment threads rolling— or they might stand blank. (It would be one or the other because in many ways the book presents sobering truths.) I had an idea to do a book club with it with everyone commenting being anonymous but FB won’t allow for “ghost” profiles. The truth is, in the big picture, we are very small. We strive for things her that will vanish from the earthly record but what we lay up in heaven is eternal—they may be invisible here but not there. The most important part of that Murielle’s day wasn’t recorded on a chip but it was recorded in heaven—“the sacred spot.”

    • Shelly Miller

      That books sound interesting Dea. I’ll have to check it out, I think small is exactly where I need to be.

  14. Laura

    beautiful post Shelly…so much for me to ponder on because this speaks to where I find myself right now…invisible. thank you…..

    • Shelly Miller

      I hope you know you aren’t invisible no matter how much you feel that way Laura.

  15. Jerri Miller

    I understand this so well. I’ve spent a lifetime being invisible … or at least it feels that way to me. Thank you for sharing.

    • Shelly Miller

      Oh, that breaks my heart Jerri. But you aren’t invisible to the one who made you. You know that? I’m praying for you as I reply here. Thank you for stopping and letting me know.

  16. Sandra Heska King

    I feel this way so many times. And then I wonder how many feel invisible to my eyes.

    • Shelly Miller

      You give me good perspective with that comment Sandra.

  17. dukeslee

    Tears here. Too much to describe in a comment box. I feel such a release in your words. You have truly ministered to a broken place.

    • Shelly Miller

      Love you Jennifer. Grateful for you and you know I’m praying.

  18. Nikki

    I’d hug you proper if I could…this touched my very core, friend.

    I’m not my best when I confuse who I am with what I do….yes.

    • Shelly Miller

      Sending you a virtual hug Nikki. Can yo feel it?

  19. BrennaDA

    This makes me want to keep my babies small for now…..thanks for sharing, Shelly.

    • Shelly Miller

      I know what you mean. There are days when I wish I could go back. But every stage has sorrow and joy. Really.

  20. Chris Olson

    Interesting – I like the dynamic of teens, cameras, and God. Many people experience this, but few have written about it. A very honest, thoughtful and authentic post.

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you Chris. I’m glad to know that.

    • Shelly Miller

      Aw, thanks Tammy. Appreciate your kindness. May God use it to speak to you in a way only He knows.

  21. Nacole Simmons

    You can write a story so well, Shelley. Gosh, you exposed me, brought fears of mine to the surface. Invisible? I think I feel that way incessantly. It’s a form of pride–as you so gently put it–always the need to be noticed. And this insatiable need can negatively affect so many relationships in my life–children, marriage, friendships, etc. I love the way you make me think, Shelley, love the honesty I read here. Glad to be back around, to be joined in community with you, and it meant so much, you coming over, friend.

    • Shelly Miller

      Glad you are back in community too Nacole. We missed you friend.

  22. Megan Willome

    From what you’ve shared, she didn’t mean it mean.

    That’s something.

    • Shelly Miller

      No, not at all. She doesn’t have that in her. Can’t imagine her being mean, she is so compassionate.

  23. Josh Taylor

    Yeah, feeling like a dufflepud isn’t always fun, but for me I need those moments, especially when God is preparing us something great.

    • Shelly Miller

      Love that insight Josh and it was nice to find you over at Emily’s place for Imperfect Prose.

  24. Carrie@simplyhomeblog.com

    A blessing to me tonight. I laugh because right before reading this and seeing your 51 comments on this post I was talking to the Lord about my frustration with my blog and never having comments! Yikes! :o) Would we do what we do if it were only for Him, if He were the ONLY one watching? Praying my heart continues to grow in the willingness to work invisibly. Thanks for the post, it was beautiful.

    • Shelly Miller

      Carrie, its something I pray about continuously, being content with just His comment here. And I feel the same way you do when I see thousands of shares on someone’s post. It’s all perspective isn’t it?

  25. Emily Wierenga

    oh friend. i think this is something we all struggle with: this longing to be seen. you pinpointed it SO well in this. thank you for your honest, open heart. love you.

    • Shelly Miller

      It’s this wrestling I’m tired of. Wish it wasn’t part of the writing life. It distracts me often.

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