Let’s be honest, we all have encountered a moment or two when you’ve been totally ignored and overlooked. It is not a very good feeling and after so many “brush off” or “side eyed” looks you start to believe that you may be invisible or just not worth the attention. There are a few ways this can be dealt with or, better yet, a few ways to “avoid” dealing with this. I can attest to this first hand and I can also admit that handling it, confronting it, was not the way of the road I would decide to explore. I was and sometimes can be a runner, I avoid confrontation at all cost if I can, especially if it leaves in vulnerable and open to rejection. Yet, this way is always a choice and not all times do we realize that this avoidance was birthed out of a choice made for you.
For a very long time, I didn’t pay attention to avoiding conflict. I now know why I didn’t notice how inadequate I felt until I encountered a heart breaking life shift and was forced to “deal” with my stuff and I would run away from what I was called to do in order to overcome the problem I was facing. Like many people, when enduring a life altering and painful change, I clung to the only consistent pain relief, the word of God. I began reading more of my bible and praying more than ever. Nothing and no one could help me, I couldn’t even articulate the pain I was but the Lord knew and I remember reading about Hagar in Genesis 16. I remember reading about her story and noticing that she was so silent and submissive to Sarai (Sarah eventually) Abraham’s wife and she reminded me a lot of myself. Hagar was someone who had a job/function to do and she needed to do it with a good attitude, no voice, and no true appreciation. Hagar had been defined to us in her introduction in scripture. Genesis 16 vs.1 and it reads, “Now Saria, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar,”. So, Sarai gave Hagar to Abram (eventually Abraham) as a substitute wife, that held only one job requirement which was to conceive a child on behalf of the “real” wife Sari. This being common practice during that day, Hagar had no choice or say in the choice to become the “substitute” wife.
“Then Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan.”
It is important to look at the verse above and notice how Hagar is described and who made the choice that would soon become her biggest problem. Sarai took her, Sarai told Hagar; “go, sleep with my husband, become his wife for purposes of conceiving a child only” and Hagar obeyed because as we see here she is identified as being a maid, and an Egyptian. The common practice of the land and the people granted barren wives who were maybe shamed to give a female servant to their husbands in order to produce heirs, this was the custom of the day. However, the problem began before it was even started because Sarai lacked faith in God’s promise to give her and Abram descendants and accustomed to the way of the world. This choice gave birth to many issues that soon caused Hagar to run away from his mistress, but to be found by an angel and commissioned to return and face the problems.
When we conform to the common practices of the world we will many times fall into sin and show lack of faith in God and his promises
I can’t tell you how many times I have allowed my circumstance, what title(s) I held, and my background define me. Like Hagar, I submitted to many of them and also like Hagar many of them were big issues that I ran away from facing. You see my introduction would be written as such, “a fatherless African American, high school dropout, and single mother.” You think that’s a mouth full? Well, imagine what issues and battles I ran away from in life and in my mind? So many, but It all boiled down to me always feeling inadequate and unequipped. Therefore, I lived a life for a very long time with no voice and feeling unseen. I remained in helpless relationships because I never knew what being fully accepted by a man felt like to I settled for whatever was being offered and mirrored what I had been taught through my predecessors and influence in my life. I told myself that I was uneducated and lack the ability to speak well so I remained quiet in situations where I needed to speak up, I doubted whatever idea or goal I had in my heart because no way a high school dropout with a 11th grade education could run successful business or dare pursue a career in writing. Or, how about all the times I self-sabotaged opportunities and squandered the opportunity to go to college. I was so ashamed that I only held a GED that I lied for years and told people I was either in college or had finished. I remember running into a group of girls I went to highschool with a few days before their graduation and they were shopping for their grad outfits and so excited for grad night. I told them lies and made up a story about how I was graduating too but from a different school and was shopping for the same reason. With a smile on my face I was dying inside and walked in so much shame. Even still, years went by and I gave birth to more shame in my heart after being left behind to raise my daughter alone. I fell into the stereotype and made it very easy for men to have access to me, I mourned dreams of marriage or at least the marriage I once dreamed of, I became bitter toward men and lied to myself about needing one. I ran, I ran very far away to distant places, never to be really open with anyone, never to be truly vulnerable. I had too much to hide and it was way too painful to face. The lies were easier to sleep with and the distance I ran away from facing my problems made it easier to lie and soon the lies become quiet and only for me.
When the bottom fell out and I ran to the end of myself I realized, I had lost my voice, I fell into the background and was so far away no one could really see me. So much so, that I wasn’t even sure how to pray to God and if God heard me or talk to my family. I, like Hagar, had ran away but to be found in the wilderness, feeling angry about being unseen and unheard, yet unaware that I was pregnant with my voice and that voice would cause me to be seen as well. But by who? By the one who matters most, God.
“ Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?”
We call out … He hears … He Speaks …
What is that voice for me? It is honesty and vulnerability to God, it is the confessing and testimony of my mistakes and bad choices that enable me to face my troubles. It is the call and response through Ishmael “God hears” that reassures me that I have a voice and a responsibility to use it. It is a reminder that my choices or choices made does not have to stay a mess but will be used to glorify God through my change in direction and submission to change. That voice is the Holy Spirit leads and teaches me new ways, it is my saving grace, as deep calls out to the deep, he hears me and sees me.
That voice is Gods voice within me
God will use the people who may feel inadequate to perform some of his greatest miracles and give the words to speak to bring forth the power to move through red sea obstacles, look at Moses!
He sends help to encourage us and equips us with grace to face our problems, so there is no need to feel unequipped, look to Hagar!
He marries the wayward woman and restores her, look to Israel!
My point is this, once we realize that we have been made new and washed clean of our past we will begin to walk it out and the Lord will begin to change our lives from the inside out. What was once old will be made new and what was lost will be redeemed. We must remember that no matter who is not hearing you or does not see you, remember that God sees you and that you are the apple of his eye. As I journey there are a couple of practical things that has and is helping me overcome inadequacy.
- I EMBRACE the word of God daily! Confirming it by believing in the word and confessing it out loud, using my voice, I remind myself that I am fearfully and wonderfully made in God image. Uniquely fashioned in his likeness and am built for a particular purpose with a particular set of gifts and abilities to execute that purpose. Therefore, I embrace ME exactly how I am flaws and all, walking as authentically in my own skin as I can!
- I CELEBRATE others and who THEY are no matter where I am in life, I try my best to avoid comparison and just praise God for their gifts, their purpose, their vision and their blessed life.
- I SUPPORT others in the way I would want to be supported and in the way the Lord calls us to as brothers and sisters in Christ.
- I BUILD myself up. My mission scripture is Colossians 2:6-7 and it tells us to live our lives to reflect King Jesus, building and rooting up our lives in Him, being established (accepted, set up, in position) by the faith in HIM. It goes on to remind us that we’ve been taught how to do such things and that we must abound in it with thankfulness! So I build myself up by remaining close to him, learning from the scriptures and the knowledge available to me through books, trainings, relationships, and of course the teaching of the Holy Spirit.
- I PURSUE peace and what this means to me is this. I seek balance between focusing on the Lord completely and being a good steward of my time and resources. If I don’t have peace about a particular goal, I am chasing or ambitious about I let it go. If there is an opportunity and I have no peace, that it may not be honoring to his kingdom purpose which is the primary goal. I hold loosely to my own agenda and cling to Christ.
- I PRAY for the Lord to remove anything that is unlike him in my heart. Anything that does not reflect his character, because he created me in his image and day by day I begin to see myself as he does and am reassured that he fully accepts me. Therefore, inadequacy cannot continue to live.
There is a quote and it says “love starves insecurities and feeds esteem”!
Speak loud and Stand tall