To Those Who Go Unnoticed
Jun 10, 2018 06:24AM
By Bonnie Lyn Smith
This piece is deeply personal to me. I almost didn’t write it. But something that has been bubbling to the surface for a very long time erupted in me as I watched my high school daughter dance at her recital dress rehearsal. It was as if time stopped, and God said:
“I see, Bonnie. I see. You think nobody else does, but I do. Now, you find a way to communicate that to her.”
And my strong, sometimes fierce, and always feisty self crumpled as I shakily held the iPhone camera to record what I could for family who could not make it to the recital. There was an inner tremble, a hurt child within me, that let go as I watched her glide across the stage with such grace to John Legend’s “If You’re Out There.”
The message of the song is about people coming together in the name of peace. That’s an awesome concept, for sure. But I saw a very quiet, non-attention-seeking young lady dance for the pure joy of it,
“if you’re out there” watching or not.
And it spoke to me in all the hollow places where as a parent I had watched her hurt for so long in several arenas after a very difficult year of poor health and adjusting to a big high school—after time and time again of having amazing character and compassion to offer, but feeling like a wallflower.
My dear sweet daughter, you are not a wallflower. People in your social circles may not know what you can do and what your many gifts are,
but I do.
Your family does.
Your God does.
My husband and I have been Sunday School teachers for the junior high age group for several years. We have observed many different personalities in our class, and I can honestly say each one had fascinating insights and abilities to offer. We loved their hearts and the ways God was drawing them into His purposes.
But we have also seen several slip through who quietly love big, think big, grow big (personally), while the more outgoing personalities seemingly drown them out. It was always our prayer and goal each week to make each student feel loved and cared for by noticing them. Having dealt with much abandonment in my own life, I never wanted a precious heart out there to feel left on the side of the road. To think they didn’t matter.
All the same, whether it’s a function of shyness, anxiety, group dynamics, a lack of access to their interests, or being overlooked simply because it’s easier for those around them, there are many in this world who feel unnoticed. Whose squeaky voices simply haven’t found courage or volume yet. Whose contributions to loving others or being kind are never witnessed.
At the end of the day, don’t we all want to be truly known?
When I think of my own public path, I care so much more about being understood for my true intentions and what is inside my heart than I do that folks know I’m an author, my education level, my career successes, etc. I want them to know who I am in the quiet.
To all of you who, for either a season of time or as a regular gig, feel unnoticed, please let me say this to you:
- You may not be the one who platforms your talent in front of others in arenas that are special to you.
- Your name may be mispronounced or not remembered easily.
- Others may never see your hidden pain, especially if you are more reserved.
- You may never be called on stage for awards that seem to promise to “make us somebody” but are fleeting moments of recognition.
- Your service to that person with disabilities or that kid next to you in class struggling with his homework may never be seen by a teacher or mentor.
- That person who accused you of something so far from your own intentions or heart may never “get it.”
- You may not have the right “connections” people-wise, because of your shy nature, to receive the opportunities others may enjoy.
Whatever the situation…
While everyone else seems to be “not looking,” or, at the very least, “not understanding,”
God sees you.
Proverbs 5:21, ESV
For a man's ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths.
Proverbs 15:3, ESV
The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.
1 Samuel 16:7, ESV
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
God knows you.
Isaiah 43:1, ESV
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”
John 10:14-15, ESV
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
Psalm 139:1-6, ESV
O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
God loves you all the way to Calvary!
John 3:16, ESV
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
The Good Shepherd of your soul would
leave the 99 sheep to pursue the one who was lost (Matthew 18:12).
And that “one” was you. It was me. It was the louder sheep, and it was the one off by itself in the field in the background, with no other sheep paying it any attention.
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
She is the author of Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day and the founder and editor-in-chief of Ground Truth Press, a book publishing company.