Girlfriends – The Invisible Woman

I‘m so excited to have Shelley Hendrix as my guest blogger today! Shelley is the founder and teacher of Church 4 Chicks, inc. based in Atlanta, GA. Church 4 Chicks is a ministry devoted to creating and cultivating environments of grace for women of all ages. She is also a conference speaker, author, and TV talk show host. In her own words, Shelley says, “I am an imperfect, can’t-get-it-all- together, wife and mom who loves Jesus, is thankful for His grace, and loves being a part of this generation of people who will not settle for religion as we’ve known it.”

Do you ever feel like the “invisible woman?” Do you struggle with loneliness even when surrounded by people? I know all too well what this feels like! In 1997 my daughter Macey was hospitalized at eight months of age. She was only supposed to be there for about four hours; but it turned into almost an entire week. And not one person outside of my family called or paid a visit. I had decided that because of this, perhaps I needed to find a new church. But God had something else in mind…
I recently found something that said, “Study on women reveals that loneliness affects overall health.” There’s another famous study that’s been out for some time now by UCLA which showed the different ways women handle stress and crises compared with men. In the study, and others like it, they pointed out that, for women, not having close friendships can be as detrimental to your health as being overweight or being a heavy smoker. We are actually designed with a biological need for friendship with other women. And because of this design I think we can conclude that God is interested in us having some great friendships!

“You are the God who sees me!” (See Genesis 16:13)

Once I began to consider the fact that if I knew what it felt like to be an invisible woman, there was a good chance there were others who felt the same way. I remember talking to God about my strong feelings of rejection and isolation — of feeling invisible– and as I asked him if it was time for me to find a new church home (so I could have friends), He responded by asking me a question. I’ll never forget these very clear words from my Heavenly Father: “Shelley, when was the last time you visited someone in the hospital?” With that short sentence He spoke volumes to my heart. God was reminding me that He sees me, and that He sees others as well. No one is invisible to His grace-filled eyes.

I decided to launch out of my comfort zone and to seek out other women who might feel invisible, too, rather than wait for someone to find me. I started off in simple ways. For example, I began writing cards to people who had been absent from my Sunday school class that previous week. I wanted them to know that it mattered to someone that they weren’t able to be there and that they were missed. Additionally, I began to seek out women who were new to the area and new to my church. I had no idea how God was going to use this in my life!

A man who has friends must himself be friendly… Proverbs 18:24a NKJV

Friendships developed and then, in 1999, I went through one of the most difficult experiences of my life. But this time I didn’t go through it alone. When the storm hit, I was surrounded by friends who could walk through it with me. From that point on, because God saw me and loved me and was gracious to lead me into a new level of maturity, my friendship cup overflows! Yours can, too!

Do you ever feel like the invisible woman? Would you share how you’ve learned to go beyond yourself and make friends with those who may feel invisible?

I’m so thankful Shelley was so willing to be transparent and share her heart with us today!

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7 Comments

  1. Stephanie, thanks for sharing Shelley with us and Shelley thanks for sharing your heart with us!

    I can relate but in a different way. I love meeting and loving on people. I enjoy relationships BUT I often feel like the invisible one not due to isolation or waiting for people to seek me out, but I am often the “go to girl for prayer and problems” and often no one seeks me out for anything other than that. Friendships begin and immediately their needs and cares are what they bring to me BUT they are not available for a two-way friendship. Does that make sense?

    Let me clearly say here that I don't wait for anyone to seek me out. I'm a seek out person but I do it very guarded due to the times I've given my all to friendships up-close just to be rejected, betrayed and used.

    It's a hard spot but I'm often reminded that GOD loves me just as much as HE loves 'them' so I continue to love and reach out but I confess I do it with a prayerfully and carefully (watch-dog on the heart) mind-set. I'm praying to overcome that.

    I hope what I wrote made sense. Truthfully, I've only written one time as of late (via A Martha Heart) and shared my friendship pain. I'm a transparent person as GOD has designed and can talk about all other areas BUT this friendship thing has been very difficult for me and I think it's because it's still an unhealed area of my life.

    I love getting to know people and love ministering to their hearts–seeing them draw closer to GOD and I know alot of precious women but the up-close (or what some call close girlfriends) is hard for me after having 4 go wrong over the years in very painful ways.

    Ok, my comment is way to long but thanks Shelley for being an encouragement.

  2. It is so strange how with all of the means to connect with people (via email, telephone,etc.), how often we still feel isolated! Friendships are very important, and taking out time from our overly fast paced lives to invest in them is sometimes difficult if we are not intentional about it! I love that verse when Hagar actually names God, the God who sees me. That is so precious to me! And, as you say, our isolation can be changed if we will only look outward. How wonderful to think that we can partner with God to be His hands and feet to help others know Him and His love. Your post is excellent reminder of that!Thanks!

  3. Lisa, Thank you for commenting! Your post makes perfect sense. This is a place I think a lot of us can relate to–Finding “shoulder-to-shoulder” relationships is not easy, but I'm finding it to be so worth it! At every point in our life, we are both an “older” and a “younger” woman (Titus 2); but we are also always in need of a close friend or two who walk with us, side-by-side. Thank you for being intentional to reach out to women, and may God continue to bring healing to your life (and mine!) as it pertains to friendships.

    Blessings!
    Shelley

  4. Dona,

    Thanks so much for your comment! I couldn't agree more. I think we need more “face time” with our friends and maybe less “facebook time.” 😉 I love the ways we can connect and even nurture friendships virtually, but there really is no substitute for what can happen in real life.

    Blessings!
    Shelley

  5. Lisa ~ Thank you for being so willing to be so transparent. I think many women have walked on that same painful path in the area of their friendships. God has blessed me beyond measure with some good, godly girlfriends and I love spending time with each of them when I can, but I can't say that I really have a bff. Ministry is often a lonely place to be. Close friendships are often elusive. But I rest in the fact that the Lord is my best friend and He has also blessed me with a great family.

  6. Dona ~ I love how you used Hagar's experience to remind us that we have never escaped the view of God. He never looses sight of us. He certainly is the God who sees – even when we feel invisible.

  7. Stephanie, Thank you for starting the girlfriend series and having such wonderful, godly women. And thank you, Shelley, for sharing your heart's story. Blessings to you both!

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