A few weeks ago, I was in a fast food restaurant. Usually, I just tune out "atmospheric" music, but on this particular day, I was struck by a song with this refrain: "I just want you to know who I am." The song captured the feeling of the invisibility that sometimes makes us feel desperate for notice.
I remembered how much I wanted to be noticed when I was the youngest member of the staff and all the older people were being taken more seriously than I was. I felt that I had great ideas, but nobody wanted to hear them. Now I have friends who are being told that they are too old to have fresh ideas. They feel as invisible as I did when I was too young.
I guess you could attribute these responses to the human condition and tell people to just get over it. But that isn't a lot of comfort if you're struggling to find your place in the world or feeling that you've lost it.
For me, a better alternative has been prayer. I've found that prayer gives me a deep inner quiet, a private mental place where I can talk to my creator and ask Him directly, "What is my purpose? Why am I here?"
Surprisingly, I've received answers, too. Few of them have come as statements like, "You will be a geologist." But each time I pray in depth, something happens that tells me God is taking care of me. And this kind of prayer is open to anyone. It shows us that God's care isn't an afterthought but is very specific. Jesus brought out this point when he said, "The very hairs of your head are all numbered," and then told his listeners not to be fearful, because they were of value to God (see Matt. 10:30, 31).
Many years ago, I failed in a relationship that was important to me, and it triggered a tailspin of deep unhappiness. I blamed myself a lot for what had happened, even though it's not clear what I could have changed. Finally, I was able to get quiet enough inside so I could ask God for direction. The answer I got was not what I'd expected. It was these words from the Bible: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17). It seemed impossible that anyone, especially God, would be pleased with me.
Then I realized that God didn't see me as a failure but as His own creation, His idea. I sensed that His perception of me was completely different from the short, tired, overweight being I saw in the mirror. It is an odd feeling to know that divine omnipotence not only knows who and where you are but also made you, loves you, and wants you. At first, it felt like being friends with a tyrannosaurus rex something a lot bigger than you that you aren't sure you can trust.
But in the years since then, I've come to see that God is worth trusting. God doesn't know us for our failures or mistakes but for the goodness, strength, and beauty He has given us. God has designed us to lead satisfying and useful lives, and He is willing to guide us when we lose our way or make mistakes. God loves us with an inexhaustible love that knows us through and through. Just as when you are talking about a friend that you really love, God focuses on the good points. So when we're asking God for guidance, we get to see these good points more clearly, too.
I've found that as I choose to think of myself in this way, I make fewer mistakes and do better work. Also, when I began doing this regularly, other people started noticing me in a positive way. New opportunities opened up.
There are still times when I need reassurance from God that He is here and that He hasn't changed His mind about me. And there are times when I make mistakes that need to be corrected. But whenever I hear myself asking, "Why am I here?" I now know who to ask and who will give me a straight answer. And that's the One who made me in the first place. That One is your creator, too, and if you have this question, ask Him. You may be surprised at just how much He loves you.
The Lord's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as
the apple of his eye.
Deuteronomy 32:9, 10