I seem to be able to suffer invisibility despite my size. I say suffer because sometimes the people who can’t see me, run into me with their shopping carts. My ankles bear the scars.
"Oh, I didn’t see you," they usually say. "Sorry."
Let’s be real here, for anyone who hasn’t been with me shopping in a grocery store, I am as wide as the cart I push.
A couple weeks ago at a conference at another church the other 5 from my work church didn’t see me across the aisle and 1 pew back. There was no room for me so I had to find a different spot close by.
"We couldn’t find you."
"You shook my hand at greet-your-neighbor time."
"That was you?"
"Did you come in late?"
"No, I followed you guys in."
To be fair, the sun was shining in the window behind me and it was pretty bright. Anyone looking into the glare was probably a little blinded. Really, I was a little grateful to be off by myself…no distracting chatter and I could digest the Methodist stuff at my own pace.
Introverts like me seem to have the same talent no matter what the size. We can blend into the background and disappear. Sit quietly and don’t make any quck moves is the key. Also, no flashy clothes, jingly jewelry, loud gum, or snacks that crunch. And for sure no shoes that make noise when you walk. Crowd situations make me want to disappear. Wherever more than a dozen people will be gathered my need for invisibility grows. Unless I am with my Extrovert friends, I can usually get away with less than a dozen words of conversation.
Yet having spent time listening I usually feel like I’ve gotten to know folks. I do like to pay attention. I like to watch gestures and expressions on faces. I like to catch people being sweet with each other or catch the knowing glances folks think no one else can see. I also see the winces of pain or shakiness or even meanness from my quiet point of view.
Last week I slipped into our coffee house to hear the special singer, the grand daughter of a church member. She was wonderful. Despite not being on an access aisle I was walked into 3 times.
Each said, "Sorry, I didn’t see you there."
"That’s okay, " I said because I am technically at work.
"The last woman was someone dear. I had watched her get up from her seat abruptly then noticed she whispered to several people at her table without smiling, and without her husband at the table with her. As she bumped into me, I reached for her hand and pressed it against my cheek.
"Are you okay?" I asked and held her hand. "Do I need to pray?"
"Oh yes Robin. Just keep me in your prayers" Then she left with a promise to come visit soon. I prayed right away and was glad to have been bumped and trusted.
Sometimes hiding in plain sight if even more intentional doesn’t work at all. Like going to the office on an off day and working with the doors locked and the blinds closed and only the glare of my computer monitor for light. For some reason the more obvious you try to hide, the less obvious to people it is you don’t want to be bothered! Yesterday three of us tried to hide out in our offices to catch up on some work. Even the sign posting us CLOSED didn’t stop folks. These are the folks who have the "they don’t mean me" gene. These are the folks that read the newsletter and see the holiday closed notice and figure they will visit or ask for stuff that day anyway. The phone didn’t stop ringing, the knocks on the windows never slowed, and the amazing number of people with keys who let themselves in to bother us was remarkable! I couldn’t be invisible to save my soul yesterday but there were some useful interruptions and bumps in the day! Though the plan was to catch up and work unterrupted, the Lord had another plan as He always does.
Lately, whether I am visible or invisible by design or not, my goal is to be intentional about seeing the opportunity the Lord has for me to connect, learn, or pray, and do His Work to the best of my ability. He sees me always and loves me anyway!