I shake my head as I flip through our family photo album. Page after page of pictures and I’m not in any of them.

There was a day several years ago when my daughter asked me, “Mommy, I see Daddy with us, but where were you all that time?”

Crickets.

Teeth gritting.

Tongue biting.

My children are going to grow up thinking I was an absent mother. Years from now, they will look through these albums and shake their heads, At least daddy loved us. Look at all of those family vacations he took us on all by himself!

Never mind that I was the one hanging upside down from the rafters to get those adorable shots of my family.

So few of our photos have me in them. What about me?! Why can’t someone else be thoughtful enough to take pictures every now and then? What does it always have to be me?!

To prove my existence in the family, I often resorted to taking shots like this one:

I am very mature and am always sure to keep the real problems of the world in perspective. I also never blow things out of proportion or have unrealistic expectations of people.

Joking aside, sometimes it’s those annoyances of our everyday that carry hints into the secrets we carry in our souls.

I’m tempted to just say I’m being ridiculous. That may be true – but what also may be true is that there is something deeper going on.

Sometimes annoyance is just annoyance. But not always.

Why does this bother me really?

***

John and I go on a date, sit outside MCoul’s under the twinkle lights. We share an appetizer and without thinking I snap a shot of his profile with my phone. I like the way he looks just now, looking off into the distance.

Before I can stop myself, I ask him why he never takes photos of me. I recognize a touch of anxiety within me as I anticipate his response.

My question surprises him, and he answers with, “I don’t know. Pictures just aren’t that important to me. I’d rather have the real thing.”

He’s flirting.

I smile, look down.

“Do you wish I took more photos of you?” He asks genuinely, not realizing this is a thing.

I immediately feel stupidWhy is this a thing? It’s not like I like to have my picture taken. I don’t necessarily like looking at my picture when it is taken, either. I’m not all hey look at me! ish.

I am challenged to be honest even though I don’t know what it means. I admit to him I wish he took more photos of me. When he asks why, I don’t have an answer.

***

I once heard Dr. Larry Crabb say the deepest fear of a woman is invisibility.

At first glance, I disagree. Invisibility would be awesome! Superpower anyone?

But the more I think about it, the more I can say I understand. I can’t speak for every woman, but I can say for me invisibility is a legitimate fear.

I don’t want attention or spotlights or even to be looked at, necessarily.

I want to be seen. I want to be known for who I am, seen on the soul level, regarded. Please don’t let me disappear. Please turn your head in my direction, look into my eyes, and see me.

Maybe that’s what it is with me and photos – I want to know my husband sees me. On the surface level, photos would be proof.

But a photo isn’t really what I want.

John and I have been married for 12 years this month. Like most marriages, our relationship has always been changing, but over the past two years it has changed the most, mainly because my husband is beginning to see me. He is curious over me. He moves toward me – even when I am frantic and chaotic – with courage and intention.

It hasn’t always been that way. And he still doesn’t take pictures of me.

But now I don’t care as much.

Are there any situations in your life right now that are causing you anxiety or even minor annoyance? Might you be willing to take a closer look and see if there is anything deeper going on?

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  • Cherie

    This post really touched me Emily. Thanks so much. I am the one behind the camera in our family and I often make our pictures into photo books, which my husband pours over and treasures. But, there is a part of me that wishes he would turn the camera on me with our children – not because I love being in the limelight, but because these photos we take are telling the story of our family, and they’re not just photos but a record of who we are, and who we are becoming. Last week I put a photo up on my noticeboard of my mother with me as a baby….the joy on her face, the delight she had in me – the photo said it all, and I know my dad would have been smiling as he took that photo. Just as you say, it’s not about the picture, it’s about being deeply known by those around us and especially by our spouses….for me, it’s also realising that my husband notices me in a million different ways, but he rarely uses words to tell me, and almost never takes photos ;)

    • Stephanie Mills

      Yes!!!!

  • http://walkingwellwithgod.blogspot.com Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God

    Emily,
    I am 52 and have photo albums filled with family pictures and, like you, few of them have me in them. Part of it is our selfless act as mothers to be the official family photographer, but I’ve learned over the years that I count too. I think my biggest desire (and fear) is to be loved, affirmed and appreciated. Sometimes those closest to us forget we have needs too. Rather than to silently expect and then be disappointed, I have learned that I need to speak up and make my needs known to less intuitive family members. I do this now regularly so that, I too, don’t disappear.
    Great post!
    Blessings,
    Bev

  • Andrea

    I believe as women, mothers, wives, we a work behind the scenes. I have been myself been in a rut to make myself a part of things. I am cooking while the kids and my husband play before dinner, I’m doing dishes as dinner is wrapping up. I am behind the camera taking the pics. I am folding clothes and cleaning the house. I am doing all of these things behind the scenes. I understand not being in the picture. While it isn’t bothersome most of the time it can be an annoyance. Funny I was just thinking this this morning when ingot out of bed! Thanks!

  • http://showknowgrow.com Melinda Viergever Inman

    Well said, Emily. Such a poignant heartache I can relate to! Like Bev’s comment above, at 53 I find I’m barely present in the reams of albums we have (which I snapped and compiled, but who’s keeping track). :) Recently, we had to choose photos for a family funeral. Scanning the years, we sought in vain for good photos of me. I’ve been nudging my husband this direction for decades. He still doesn’t take photos unless I hand him the camera and say, “I want our kids to remember I was present.” He still doesn’t get it, but he laughs and complies. I still love him. :)

    Like you, I often feel invisible. I agree with Larry Crabb and all the other writers who have stated this same truth. We serve. We love. And then, we are gone. I know my body is seen, but am I seen? Will I be remembered. I am so glad the most important audience of ONE sees me intimately, both inside and out. When I feel no one notices or sees, Jesus sees my heart, my motives, and my fears. He knows I was there, all in, completely present. I’m glad.

    • http://www.chattingatthesky.com emily freeman

      I think it’s important to be honest about why these things bother me -not to get my husband to change his personality or to meet a need I have.

      Rather, it’s important for me to look beyond the surface issue and discover what’s hiding underneath. It could be this, like I wrote about here, but it could be a ton of other things.

      And when I do that, it helps me to see how unreasonable I am sometimes being – how I am expecting something as silly as a photo to prove something deep and sacred about myself.

      • http://inkyjazz.com Bridget

        I see what you’re saying. It’s so easy to focus on the irritation, especially when the solution seems so simple as someone else changing. But every annoyance is a potential revelation. I dare say it would be more productive to focus my attentions here, since we all know how effective it is to focus on changing someone else.

  • Meg

    Thank you Emily for a beautiful post. I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face. You really touched something in me. I too often have to ask my husband to take a picture of me as I am the family photographer and scrapbook maker. I always feel foolish asking to have my picture taken. But you are right…there is more to the meaning of that and this really helped me process WHY. Keep up your beautiful writing.

  • http://itwasbroughtonbylove.blogspot.com Southern Gal

    I often think of my grandparents and wonder who takes time to remember them. That brings on the anxiety you speak of. Will they remember me? I know the most important question in all this is “Do I remember Him?” When I think about Him and the shortness of this life compared to eternal life with him, my picture anxiety fades a bit more. There’s so much more under the surface. Thanks for touching on it here.

  • Lacy

    Wow. I have been feeling this so strong lately and couldn’t understand why or what to call it. My boyfriend has been really busy lately working two jobs and is brain dead and tired by the time I see him so he hasn’t been giving me the attention I’m used to. It gives me the worst anxiety I suddenly suspect that he’s breaking up with me that I’m not good enough anymore…all kinds of crazy things. The truth is I’m afraid if he doesn’t see me then he is seeing someone else particularly someone better and more beautiful. If you ever met me you would never suspect that I would feel this way and especially I’d you met him and saw how much he loves me. My ex boyfriend cheated on me and I think that caused some deep seeded issues that I haven’t fully dealt with. I know this isn’t something that my boyfriend can fix by showing me more attention. I know that Jesus has to mend my soul. Thank you for helping me to allow these lies to surface and somewhat guiding me to deal with them.

    • http://www.chattingatthesky.com emily freeman

      Yes – pushing beneath the surface to discover the fear there – you have so nicely articulated this. And ultimately, as you said, we have to realize the unrealistic expectations we put on people, expectations they can’t possibly meet.

      The bigger challenge for me personally is to accept that even if things never change, even if he doesn’t see me, I will still be okay. In Christ, I will still be okay.

      • Lacy

        So true

  • http://www.family6-time.blogspot.com Suanna

    My thought is I want my kids to be able to remember if something happens to me. I am usually behind the camera, but sometimes I just ask my husband, child, or someone else to take a picture with me in it. I know if something had happened to my mom when I was a child I would’ve treasured some of the pictures that included her.

  • http://www.timsarmywifey.blogspot.com Holly

    oh thank you for this …. I have felt this way for quite some time — to be seen, to be heard … to know that what I do matters ….

  • http://www.jollynotes.com Bomi

    What a beautiful post:). Thanks for sharing! I too have a ton of pics of the kids and my husband. But I have accepted the fact that he will not spontaneously take pictures of me, not the way I do with him. So I ask:D If we’re out and about and I feel like a picture of myself, I ask him to take a picture of me, or of me and the kids. and he always does. I’m good with that:) LOL. Thanks again for sharing!

  • http://raisingnatsfans.blogspot.com Jen

    AS a single mom, I am so appreciative of strangers who recognize my struggle to get a pic with me AND my girls. I love the hilarious shots we get when my 8 yo, and especially when my 5 yo try to get a picture of mama with the other sister. And I like the closeup “selfies” we take of our 3 faces with my phone. But it is so nice to see a picture of ALL 3 of us. With a background of the place we’ve been so we have a tiny bit of the memory in the background. After a while, all the close up pictures of the 3 of us look the same.

    I try to repay the favor, especially when I am out without my kids. Looking for a family where there is one parent or the other shooting the picture, and offering to take one of all of them. It makes my day when someone does that for me.

  • Mimi

    Thank you for sharing. I can relate to this so much. I am always the one taking pictures to capture the moments and memories. My son just graduated from high school and there is not 1 picture of me with him on that day. I just want to know that I matter. Thanks again!

  • carol l

    Oh, to be invisible! I have always wished for the ability to ‘blend in’ to the crowd – which is virtually impossible when your physical appearance doesn’t allow it. But, that’s only on the outside. On the inside, I think we all crave the attention – especially the loving, acknowledgment that we think we deserve. We only have to look as far as the scriptures to see that it’s always available, and, that all we have to do is receive it. But, as far as our human nature goes – we all need that ‘pat on the back’ or ego boost to let us know that our efforts are not fruitless. Even if it is from the pulpit on a Sunday morning when I’m running late and slip in to the back row pew so that I won’t be noticed (our pastor just happened to be reading a devotional I had shared!). Nothing quite like having heads turn to see “where is she?” as the pastor points… ;D

  • http://www.missalamode.blogspot.com Scooper

    I’m not in our family pictures either. And I agree with Larry Crabb. Though I’m afraid of the spotlight, I’m also afraid of being insignificant. {And I think that’s part of why I write.}

  • http://bettitina.wordpress.com Bettina Brown

    Oh wow! This really hit my heart. Lately I’ve gotten hurt by friends misperceiving what I say, not seeing my heart. Invisible! I so crave for people to see my heart, who I really am at the core! Thank you for putting into words what I’ve been feeling!

  • Jennifer

    Thank you for this post, it hit me square in the eyes this morning. Being invisible, unappreciated, unimportant, and left behind are feelings that seem to bubble to the surface of my soul every once in a while. I too am the picture taker (unless it’s scenery, my husband likes those), and I get bothered when I look through the photo albums and see that I’m scarcely represented. It is up to me to change this and speak up, but I have a difficult time saying, “notice me.” Sometimes my human-ness wins out and I blame others for making me feel this way. When I stop and think about what is really behind it like you said, I get a better perspective. I love that Jesus notices every move I make, and His is the only attention that truly matters.

  • Barb M.

    This was a touching article. Your family is so beautiful, I am glad you captured them for eternity; the little ones will grow so fast. Me, well, I not only hate to have my picture taken, and have so little of me on file, (many of those are funky, with my mouth open shots my own spouse has taken, thanks), and I personally forget all the time (husband doesn’t remember either, maybe because he’s the stepdad?) to take my camera to my kids’ events. I even missed bringing it out for my son’s 20th birthday party with all his best friends. :( Why? I don’t know…It’s my issue. But it makes me really sad. I know that they won’t be around forever.

  • Theresa

    already gone…

    • Valerie

      I’ve felt already gone before as well. And yet that is where I discovered that I’m not invisible to the One who really knows and loves me completely. I’d stopped trying, or even wishing to be visible. I was convinced I wasn’t worth looking for.
      Know that I’m praying for you, dear one, as you wait to be known. Hope is real and it’s not up to us to feel it.
      :huuuuuuug:

  • http://www.athankfullyimperfectwoman.com Patty O

    Boy does your post speak to me today. I wish we could sit down and have coffee together…I have a story that I feel you could have wonderful insight on. This post already sheds some light on it and I will be spending some time to reflect on it. Thank you.

  • http://www.lisabuffaloe.com Lisa Buffaloe

    Emily, this pulls on my heart strings. Years ago my sweet sister-in-law, Kathy, and I were videotaping our children. Then it occurred to us we were never in the photos or videos, so we turned our cameras on one another. Smiling and laughing we waved and joked. Within a short time-frame, Kathy passed away from leukemia leaving behind my brother and her toddler daughter. Those videos and photos we took are priceless memories from my precious friend.

  • http://intruthandgrace.wordpress.com Sarah

    Anxiety has been the name of my game lately. Our journey of adopting two sweet girls from Africa has been filled with many God stories, but lately my heart has been in a constant state of anxiety as we continue to wait for movement. I just had a conversation with a friend about the heart issue of my anxiety. Thank you for your words this morning to remind me to quiet my heart and hear what truths God has to say about me & about who He is.

  • Lisa

    Wow, did this resonate with me! Since I left a high-power job, no longer dress that part, and let my hair go to a beautiful salt-and-pepper, I have noticed that I am invisible to most salespeople. When I first came to that realization, I really didn’t like it. I still don’t. Then I realized that it reveals far more about them than about me.

    I, too, have very few pictures of me to show for the last 35 years of my life. My daughter has some great pictures of me with the grandkids, but I don’t have many of me with her as she grew up.

  • Brenda

    I could have written every bit of this article myself until…the part about where your husband has been seeing you for the last couple of years. My husband and I have been married for almost 20 years and to be “known” by him is still my greatest prayer. It’s HARD living like this. I try to count my blessings and remember that he’s not an abusive man, he’s a good provider, he does love me in his way…but boy does it hurt to feel invisible and know that this is it. Until one of us departs this world…this. is. it. Realistically I know he’s not going to change and a distance has grown- is growing still. Realistically many of us will live like this with our husbands until death “do us part”. Lord be my sustenance. He alone is my provision, my happiness, my one true love who knows me better than any other…and loves me still. He is more than enough. I AM known.

    • Martha

      Wow, Brenda, that’s right where I am – although we’ve been married for 26 years. It’s VERY HARD living like this. And our children (ages 25 to 14) do not understand. We are also going through issues with a daughter. Thank you for showing me that I am not alone in this invisibility to my husband. I am struggling to hold on to Jesus; He is my only stability.

  • Sheryl

    thank you for the wonderful, heartfelt post. If I was better with words I could have written it myself! My children are grown and gone and when I look at pictures I wish there were more with me with them, showing my love for them. Their father left me when they were 6 and 9 but all the pictures I took of him and them were “set up” by me. “please hold the baby so I can get a picture” and as they got older, I’d be playing with them, get him included and I’d go get the camera…. he always refused to take a picture of me or them. But the kids look at the pictures and think he was such a wonderful man! why, just look at all the fun things he did with them!! Back then, without digital cameras, we couldn’t take hundreds of shots to get the perfect one…

  • Natalie Alday

    Thanks for that. All I can say right now is that you took the words right out of my mouth. I feel invisible quite often. Your words you wrote were my words and now I am crying…another ghost I didn’t know I had. Thanks for sharing.

  • Carol

    Emily,
    I think that women hold different sentiments about photos than men do. We look at them as memories to treasure. But, I think men look at photos as “photos”, nothing more. We are sentimental about them and cherish the memories and emotions that they conjure up. Because we treasure them, we take them. They are not as important to some others so they don’t even think about taking them. Bottom line: ASK someone to take the picture! Then you’ll have them for later to pour over!!
    Carol

  • http://graceFULLYunraveled.com Kim

    I think God really wants to be known and seen for who He is as well: Jeremiah 9:24 – “but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.”

    I have realized in the past couple of years that in order to be known we have to take off the masks (thank you Grace for the Good Girl), but recently as the Lord has graced me to walk this out and He has given me opportunities to put this into practice I have experienced a good bit of anxiety. I have kept people at a distance so long that as they get closer to the real me I feel almost claustrophobic. It makes me want to run hide in a closet.

    I am trusting God for the grace to allow Him to continue the healing process and look forward to the day when having close intimate relationship with others feels more normal than wearing the mask. Jesus is enough.

  • Alyssa

    Love, Love, Loved your post today Emily! It seems we mamas are all in this together, aren’t we? How I wish we could all gather with our children and take the world’s largest picture! Thank you for sharing your sweet words and bringing all of us just a bit closer! :)

  • AJ

    I like to think that proverbs 31 is not a long list of things that I never measure up to but rather God saying you are not invisible. I think it is His way of letting us know that even when no one else gives any notice he sees all that we do as women. You so, so, so matter to Him.

  • GWen

    My THINGS have nothing to do with photos, but the thoughts & feelings are the same. I’ve tried not too hard!) to look beneath the surface and identify the root cause. Too often, that is painful and I give up. Your post encourages me to try again. Thank you!

  • Joan Marie

    Once again, thank you, Emily. ah…to be seen, truly seen…in-to-me-see (intimacy)…from the heart, to the heart…koinonia …communion by intimate participation… a deep level of connecting, sharing …
    Just so thankful the drawing of the Holy Spirit keeps us thirsting for this, with the hopeful reminder it is He alone who completely satisfies, but how glorious when it begins to emerge in our relationships here on earth…walking in love, i am thinking that is what He had in mind all along for us…’heaven on earth’ <3

  • Sandi

    You are so right and yes, I do have deeper annoyances. I want to be seen by my family as well. Not just visibly but emotionally. Thank you for these posts. They reallly help more than you know.

  • jessica maples

    Hi E :o) … I’m curious to know why he started to “see” you.. what changed? :o)

  • Sarah Schulz

    Emily, thank you for this. It’s not so much that I see deeper things behind my annoyance this time (sometimes I have to try not to conjure “deeper things”–anxiety is often irrational!), but that I resonate so much with feeling invisible. Feeling that I’m supposed to try and be invisible, that wanting to be seen is bad and wrong and will hurt other people. I spent 20 years longing to be known, trying to hold onto Christ as my knower and finding myself hollow and aching and empty.

    I’m trying to remember that Christ is indeed the one who will always know me… but it’s right and good and will help my relationships with others if I am open, if I am myself, if I dare to ask (at least at times) for what I need. And remember to work to know others, even if they aren’t good at working to know me (because maybe I’ve just never told them I want to be known).

  • http://lynn-myenrapturedheart@blogspot.com Lynn

    Wow this spoke to my soul. I am the one behind the camera. I am the photographer and if I want me in a pic, I simply ask. So this particular situation is not a concern, but…..27 years ago I suddenly went deaf. Deafness is silent, no one can see the every day loneliness, frustration and heartbreak of being “shut out”. Reading this, I realized that is just how I feel when shut out of conversations I cannot understand, laughter that I cannot join in, emergencies where I fade to the background cause I don’t want to be in the way of helping I simply cannot give because I don’t understand anyone’s words. BTW after 13 years I did have a cochlear implant and did regain about 50% of simulated ability to hear, one to one in quiet environments. My second husband came into my life as a friend who knew ASL and taught me in English format so we could date. How cool is that? Praise the Lord. He has always seen me, wanted to know me deeper, found the way to communicate. My family never has. My choice has been to continue to be part of the family, grown children, grands, but your words hit home in that I feel “invisible” in family situations and “totally me” with my precious hubby. Thank you for giving me a smile with your gracious words.

  • Kay

    Oh, you touched my heart in a very tender spot. Thank you.

  • AmberJ

    Thinking on Ps 139- so grateful to be known and seen by God, our Father; Jesus, our Bridegroom; the Holy Spirit, our comforter!!! Good stuff.

  • lynn

    But you still care, just not as much? Why spend all the time thinking about this and not communicating it. Address it, communicate! Men need to know, to be told, how their wives feel, they do not read minds. Or just hand him the camera and say “your turn.”

  • Kersti

    the above comments and the article really brought that issue out inside of me. The iwere often taken by me, i was a maniac for pics. Then my children’s Dad died, in their early teens. So of course i don’t have photos of me w. them those 7 yrs i was a widow. Now I’ve been married to my beloved for 16 yrs., and he LOVES taking pics of me!! So i have pictures of me as well…a WAYS older than 50! I find i don’t like to look at them, tho, he’s getting better and better. I now am in EVERY picture….so my grandchildren will think i was always an old lady….the thing is, i often feel unseen even in crowds, so the honest issue here is that I am insecure. Someone said above, you gently tell your family your needs. That is not possible in my family of origin that lives in Sweden, nor w. my own children. i just have to get the self-esteem from other sources, of course my husband is a HUGE source of that!! And GOD, He has a heart FULL of love for me, and you, i have to WORK at believing that though!! Really a dumb thing…

  • http://www.caramichelestrickland.wordpress.com Cara Strickland

    This post made me cry. I have thought this and expressed it so often to friends (and my mom). I want someone to witness my life, to know what is happening and care and yes: see me. This is one of the things that I feel is hard being single, but obviously, it doesn’t ever stop.
    Thank you for sharing something so personal. I think that those are the things that really resonate.

  • http://ontheroadwithaprilandstephen.com April

    I’m a single mom so oftentimes I am the one taking the pictures of my son, especially on vacations, and I realized that there aren’t a lot of pictures of the two of us together because of it. But I think that the deeper issue for me is exactly what you said, I feel invisible sometimes and I don’t want to feel invisible. I want to be seen and be known you know? Thanks for posting this

  • http://www.redskydelights.com Yvie

    Oh dear, Emily, Emily………before I get all serious on this comment, I just wanted to say that you have beautiful children (of course, don’t we all!), but your husband??? Now, what really concerns me is that: Heaven forbid (and I mean that seriously) that you should pass on from this life before your gorgeous non-picture taking spouse, you have left behind some seriously hot, hot pictures of said spouse for the next Mrs. (heaven forbid also) Freeman!! WHAT are you thinking Emily?! Not only is he very handsome but the pictures also paint a portrait of a wonderful family man, etc. etc. And what woman can resist that?? None, I tell you, none. Now, before you waste another minute on this planet earth, get yourself photo-shopped into all these pictures, and make sure you use the most gorgeous one you can find. I don’t ever want to see these pictures (without you in them!) in an (heaven also forbid) on-line dating site 50 to 500 years from now. There. Now, where was I. Oh yes, the serious part of my comment … oops …. oh well, I’m sure it will come to me later.
    Love this story Emily, (seriously) The “invisibility” thing rings true for me. But, then again, don’t go by me, coz I have a massive ego.
    Is there such a thing as being too nice? Just saying……….

  • Rachel

    All of my kids will be in school this coming fall and this is how I feel- invisible. I don’t know how to do anything other than mother young kids at home. Thankfully, my husbands job supports us so I don’t have to go back to work, but I am so ANXIOUS about it. If I am not a momma to babies, what am I? I hate to say it out loud, but so much of being a Christian woman feels like bring an invisible worker, half of a person. I don’t know how much I am “allowed” to pursue what I love or do what I want (and to be blunt – I don’t know WHAT I love or want to do anymore because I spend all my time serving the needs of others in my family). How do you figure that out?!

    • Nadine

      I decided to be a stay-at-home mom during an unsuccessful job search several years ago, not realizing how important it was to have my own pursuits. And because I didn’t feel good about what I was doing (or in this case not doing) I WANTED to be invisible. Now it’s hard sometimes to think that I have anything even interesting to say, so I want to encourage you to try (and try, try, try again!)

  • Janet

    Being seen has nothing to do with photos to me (or lack thereof). It is being really known that concerns me. I have spent a great deal of my 47 years wishing for this to be so but in the last few years, I have come to realize that the more I know God, the more I know me. The truth is that He is really the only one who knows me best. So I spend time getting to know Him and in that, I am both known and find out who He is. A double blessing!

  • http://www.littlepiecesofordinary.com Ashley Haupt

    Or, if you are like me, you put the camera in your husband’s hand, pose with the kids, then eagerly look at the result only to remember in dismay that your husband doesn’t have your camera skills and the picture is all grass with some heads at the bottom!!

  • Jessica

    I totally feel the same way. Except, I still want my husband to take the pictures! And I do like the attention (though I rarely like what i look like in the picture!). My idea for this year’s family vacation is to give my kids cameras (disposable) and let them take pictures of whatever they want. They always like to take my picture next to the tree after I take their picture next to the tree, so I’m hoping this gets some memories (albeit, probably not clear or picture perfect!) for us all.

  • http://www.winterpastfinally.blogspot.com LuAnne

    This story – it just hits home. It’s my story. Pictures of me are few-and-way-too-far-between, it’s always me behind the lens. Eighteen years, five kids, and a bunch of houses (and vacations) later, I can look back at pictures I took and memories I captured. Which I’d much rather do, I realize now in a way I never did before, than look at pictures of myself.

    ~Peace,
    LuAnne

  • http://www.missindeedy.com Missy

    Emily, you hit on something deep within so many of us. The Thing, whatever that is (and for me it is TOTALLY self-image), can wrap it’s tentacles around us in so many stinkin’ directions that we’re not sure what the root issue really is. I love how you acknowledge that you want but your not sure how and how you realize that you want to be seen. Love that, because… me too!

  • http://www.tidbitsofexperience.com Crystal Green

    Love this post tremendously. I am usually behind the camera lenses as well in our family as well. Mine has a lot to do with being overweight and not wanting to be in the pictures anymore. I use to long to be in the “lime light” when I was a teenager. Go figure.

  • Rebecca McMaster

    yes, I want an email from this particular man, I want him to take time for me. And I check my email and what do I find? surprise! not an email from him, but one from a guy I saw once and don’t really want to again, necessarily.

  • http://mindyrogers.blogspot.com Mindy Rogers

    this makes me think of Joseph who noticed the baker and the cupbearer in Genesis . Joseph noticed them and asked them why they were troubled…. and his noticing them changed the course of his life and (eventually) got him out of prison. it is an incredibly powerful thing when we feel “seen”. just prayed for you.

  • http://www.akahomeschoolmom.com christina brown

    I have had this on my heart this season too.
    Just recently discovered this. Thought you may be interested….
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YU0aNAHXP0

  • http://wateringthegrass.blogspot.com Jen in MN

    Oh, Emily…I SO RELATE. Not just with the picture thing (although there are very few pictures of me with my kids) but more so with the being seen. For years I’ve felt unknown and unseen. Like people *think* they have me pegged, but they’re usually pretty off. Our pastor once asked me to reach out to a new mom at our church, and it was a time when I was drowning in my own sea of diapers and dishes and I wanted to yell, “I am going DOWN, people!! Can’t you see that?!?” We’re hard wired to be known, because we’re created for relationship, I guess. Both with God and people. It’s a natural longing. For me, as I discover who I really am, and see who I’m meant to be, my true self starts showing through the cracks of my defenses. Me, seeing me, is helping others to see me. Love your heart, girl! xoxo

  • http://teamcason.blogspot.com Pam

    This is really good, Emily. I, too, have begun to take an inventory of sorts when I’m annoyed, frustrated, angry, etc. And all too often it’s not really about the surface thing. at. all. There’s more going on underneath, in my heart and in my head. Since turning 40 going on 3 years ago today, I’ve discovered so much more about myself and why I do what I do and it is so freeing – getting to know myself : ) For so long, I think I walked in who I was supposed to be – a good wife and mama. I suppose discovering me is what comes with this stage of life. My boys don’t need me quite so much and having one in college . . . well, that’s a whole different ball game, but it affords me this time to find out who I really am. I think I agree with the statement you mentioned of every woman’s fear being invisibility. I think I fear that too. I want my family and others to see me for who I really am, not just the wife and mama. After all, this season of life I’m in is helping me see it more and more every day : ) Thanks for this post. It’s a keeper.

  • Rachel Hagstrom

    Emily, I was nodding in agreement and quietly saying “yes…yep, same here, sister” as I read your post this morning. You touched on some of the exact things I’ve been experiencing—not even lately, but rather for some time now. For me, when fears of invisibility creep in or when I’m not feeling appreciated and understood by others, they are always coupled with my own unique tendencies to fall into the mental traps of self-pity, self-doubt, and self-debasement. Everything becomes magnified. In these moments when I succumb and buy in to these thoughts and feelings, I can assure you that I’m not a very pleasant wife and mother to be around! It can be a daily struggle for me at times: battling the spiritual and mental tug-of-war between listening to the negative thoughts or lies that attempt to plague me and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. It’s one of the many areas of my life where I realize at a deeper level my great need for Jesus.

    Thank you for your beautiful post. It’s encouraging to me to read that others have some of the same-type thoughts at times.

  • Rebel Johnson

    OMGosh that has always been a fear of mine! I am the photographer of the family so I am in NONE of our family pictures! My husband never takes any of me either! Every vacation photo is of my husband having fun!

  • http://www.chrismalkemes.com Chris Malkemes

    Julie. Thank you for the heart hurt you gave for our country. I was in the Army for over twenty years and never thought about the loss. However, my son is in the Army and now I understand the term “sacrifice”

  • Val

    Oh my gosh, this is how I’m feeling right now, although its my church family I’m referring to. Having just stepped down from leadership for various reasons I feel like they’re ok to let me slip away. I know it’s me stepping down, but there’s no empathy for the hurt I am feeling. I don’t want people gushing over me, just acknowledgement that they see me …

  • Narah

    YES!!!! This is it.

  • http://www.lindaspatchworkquilt.blogspot.com Linda

    One of the things we women of a “certain age” find difficult is just what you’ve said Emily – this not being noticed. It seems the older we get the more invisible we bcome, and truthfully, it is a bit hurtful.
    Great post.

  • http://craftythriftydecoratingwifemom.wordpress.com Janet

    I’m always behind the camera, too, lol. Like you I’m not overly fond of having my picture taken, but it would be nice to have some record with our kids. I can so easily manage the question of why is it only daddy with us?
    Janet

  • Lori

    This is why I have loved the dawn I smart phones with reverse cameras or photo booth on the Macs. The past year or so I have taken it upon myself to take fun pics with the kids often… At home or away. I remember that when my mother In law passed In a car accident just months after my husband and I were married… That she was barely In any pics either. And they so wish that they had more to remember her by.

  • http://dianatrautwein.com Diana Trautwein

    This is terrific, Emily. And such a common feeling, especially for women. I began to wrestle with this on a pretty deep level about 20 years ago now. And for me, it began not with pictures-without-me-in-them (though I am the photographer and actually prefer it that way) but with a spiritual discipline I was asked to do. It involved praying the Prayer of Abandonment by Charles de Foucauld. I could.not.do.it. And we finally worked through all of that, in therapy and in spiritual direction, to discover that I had a very basic fear of being swallowed up by God. All my life, I had been taught, ‘more of Jesus, less of me,’ (even though that phrase is very specific to John the Baptist and the change in his ministry life, not his basic persona!) – and it pretty much terrified me. So I spent way too many years being convinced on a very elemental level that God wanted to devour me and make me some sort of Jesus-clone. (As IF). What I have learned over these years is this truth: it’s MORE of Jesus, MORE of me. Yes. As we draw closer to Jesus, we discover more of who we are created to be, and, by a miracle of grace, we become more fully human. Maybe there’s a piece of that in your feelings about disappearing in your family photos?? Or maybe I’m crazy. :>)

  • http://www.chasingblueskies.net Kristen Strong

    Julie, I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am for your incredible loss and give you a quiet *thank you* for all you’ve sacrificed.

    Deep down, I feel your legacy will speak volumes in beauty, truth, and grace. Whether or not your grandchildren see you in countless photographs, they will know you in countless ways.

    Much love to you, sister.

    • Beth Williams

      Julie,

      So sorry about your loss. May God continue to bless you and your family and give you peace. Thank you soo much for the sacrifice of your daughter! I salute ALL veterans and their families.

      Just spend time with your grandchildren–do things with them and they will remember the time and actions. Actions speak louder than words or even pictures!

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  • Mary

    I totally understand. I am always the one with the camera, taking the pictures, because I want to remember a moment in time, a gathering, something or someone special, and memory fades. For me I too wish my husband would include me in the picture, and he has. I know he loves me, is proud of me, he says I am his trophy, which may not sound good to some, but it does to me for I understand his meaning. And yet I would like to be in some of the pictures, just to say I was there, I was part of the event. I like what you said about looking deeper. I think I will and who knows what I find. I know I am seen by my Heavenly Father, Redeemer and Friend and that makes the rest seem silly sometimes.

  • Aimee

    During a particularly hard time, a friend once said to me “I see you. I hear you.” I have never forgotten it. Knowing that someone is bearing witness to your life is healing.

  • Judith H.

    Thank you Emily for sharing your story . As I read, I felt a lump in my throat and my eyes began to sting. I remember being a young mother and feeling this anxiety in my heart. To younger moms and wives I say, “STOP it right now. You deserve to be noticed, acknowledged and to have your picture taken. Start anew!”
    I love my husband with all that I am and I know he loves me, but I never spoke up. Today, I’m looking through photos of my husband and our grandchildren and our grown children with their spouses. Guess who is invisible? I was quite anxious about this a month or so ago. Finally I acknowledged to myself that it was too late to change things, there were too many years of the “expected”. I don’t think it even occurs to my children, it’s what they’ve always known. My husband tells me to hand the camera to him and say, “Take my picture!” I don’t want it to be that way. In the end, and most importantly, I praise God for blessing me with my husband, children and grandchildren, they fill my cup.

  • http://beckykeife.blogspot.com Becky

    Emily, this is beautiful and true and honest. And so real. Yes, me, too! In all of it! I thought I was just reading a nice post until the very end when you said that your marriage has changed the most in the last two years because “he is beginning to see me.” Tears. Next month my husband and I will celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary. I long to be seen like that. It’s hard and scary for me to even write these words. To admit this longing to myself and the reality that though a great father and good husband and faithful companion, the real me often feels overlooked, not understood. Your words give me hope. Thank you.

  • http://CindyTunstall.com @CindyTunstall

    Noticing my mom wasn’t in pics either helped me to jump into more pics now. My mom didn’t want her picture taken so each picture is a treasure now. . I want my family to remember me. So what if my smile isn’t perfect? Who cares? Or if I blinked. It’s the moment we will treasure. My girls like taking pics so I’m in more lately. Im grateful. My memory leaves a lot to be desired so pictures really bless me. Thanks for the post. Really touching.

  • Irene

    A million thank yous for your post. Its not the photo thing that got to me but the feeling invisible. I have felt like that for quite a while now, completely invisible at home, at work, at church, even with God. No-one knows the real me and the harsh reality is that no-one really wants to. Hopefully my Heavenly Father will explain it to me one day!

    • Joy

      I cannot imagine that things are really as they seem to you Irene. People do care to see you and know you. My heart goes out to you and I am, right now, praying for you and that you will feel the love and recognition of those around you today.

  • Christina

    Many of you have posted heartfelt things. I know there are deeper meanings to the post, but I just want to share that one of my greatest regrets is that no one can find pictures of me with my grandfather. It has been a heartache since I was a preteen and started asking. My grandfather on my mom’s side was killed tragically when I was 1 1/2 years old in a trucking accident. My mom was daddy’s girl and talked often of my grandfather. Growing up I wanted to see him holding me, but there has never been a picture found even though he saw me quite a few times before he died. There are pictures with my older brother but not me. I have always felt cheated. Why do I post this? Because to kids pictures do matter, I don’t like have my picture taken but a few years back my daughter and I had special mom and daughter pictures taken at Walmart studio. They are hung proudly and in her room so she will always know that I love her. There are pictures of me with my sons also and family pictures. I do believe pictures are important to children and teenagers. My daughter just got done asking about her great grandmother who passed away before she was born. I was able to bring out the pictures that I had taken of that great grandmother with her brothers and tell her about her.
    Are husbands intentional about taking photos? no…but mine has learned over the 19 years we have been together that photos matter and sometimes everyone has to take a picture while we have that person in our lives before the moment is gone.

  • http://mamasemptynest.wordpress.com Mama’s Empty Nest

    I enjoyed your post because I am the photo taker in my marriage too (35 years) and as I look back over all those old photos I took of our family, I am not in very many of them. My husband just doesn’t think about it, it’s as simple as that. Our kids are adults now, all married, and living far from us. So now when our family is together, I thrust my camera at my husband and tell him to take a shot of my kids with me or my daughter, who also loves to take photos, will set the self-timer on the camera so we can all be in the picture together. The feeling invisible thing really hits the nail on the head. I agree that invisibility is a woman’s greatest fear. I’m not an attention grabber either, but I’m happiest when I’m truly seen for who I am and appreciated. Even though we know who we are in Christ, I think we long to leave a legacy that won’t be forgotten. Your post reminded me of an acquaintance who recently passed away from cancer – she wrote a little memoir called “But who will bake the pies after I’m gone?”

  • Lolu

    So real. So so real.

  • cathy

    In my women’s group, a few of us joke about being the ‘invisible child’ in our growing up families. We’ve shared how we struggled with that now as adults. I know that fear.
    I can also relate to the mix of feelings…wanting a picture taken, hate looking at pictures of myself. I just wanted to be noticed. I want people to know I participated. I WAS THERE!
    I’ve come to realize (I’m 50+, emptynester, married forever) that its really the legacy that I want to leave. Having lost the most significant women in my life (my grandma and mom) I often find myself wondering “how would she do it?” I remember these women in thousands of moments throughout my day because THEY had a legacy. That’s all I want. To know that I was significant enough to be remembered. What I did was important. I left a mark, a lingering thought, a way of being. That’s all.
    Yes, Emily. I get it.

  • http://abarefootday.blogspot.com Meg

    Regard me, please, always regard me!!! Crabb you’re so right.

    And find that self timer button! Nothing makes memories like a hilarious self timer picture!

  • http://amyrogershays.com Amy

    Thanks for sharing this Emily! It’s so good to have a reminder that we can use these moments as an invitation, an opportunity, to inspect our souls. I so often tend to just get annoyed with myself for getting annoyed. I flare in anger and retreat in shame over the flare up. But when we are gentle with ourselves then we can ask why. I do this with the 2 1/2 year old. You seem upset. You are angry. Do you want to talk about it? But I also need to do that with myself. You seem upset, do you want to talk about it?

  • Shelley

    Emily, I just happened to read your post today and felt a need to respond. I had to chuckle at how much I could relate to wanting to be in the pictures and also to take so many pictures. Like your husband, my husband likes the real thing. He sometimes thinks I’m missing out by always running for the camera instead of enjoying the moment. My reasoning for wanting to be in the pictures is the fact that I lost my mom when I was 23. As I grieved, I searched thru pictures to comfort myself. I have the memories still in my mind but hardly any pictures with me and my mom together. Like maybe 2 or 3, over my whole 23 years. It really saddens me. I know she was there but pictures capture something special too. My husband knows this is important to me because even though my kids will have memories too, I want them to be able to have pictures of me with them having fun. I want them to know how much I loved them and enjoyed doing simple things with them. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that at all. If it is important to you then I would let your whole family know. My older boys are starting to take pictures too. It is really neat to see what they capture on camera with me included as well. Thanks for your post!

  • Beth Williams

    Emily,

    My annoyance right now is my job. The duties have changed drastically since I started 6 years ago. I basically sit in an office all day scanning papers. What really annoys me about this is not being around people/patients much. Basically being invisible. I want to be needed and useful for more than just scanning papers and such.

  • Brynna

    I have had this post bookmarked for several days, wanting to come back to re-read it and journal about it…which I finally have had the time to do today. The part that stood out to me was this:

    “But the more I think about it, the more I can say I understand. I can’t speak for every woman, but I can say for me invisibility is a legitimate fear.
    I don’t want attention or spotlights or even to be looked at, necessarily.
    I want to be seen. I want to be known for who I am, seen on the soul level, regarded. Please don’t let me disappear. Please turn your head in my direction, look into my eyes, and see me.”

    I have struggled with this issue over the last several months. The issue of wanting and needing to be Seen. At first I had a lot of guilt and shame-because I felt as though all I wanted was “attention” which to me just sounded so wrong. But, you worded what I was feeling so beautifully here. This is exactly what our basic human need is. Not for attention, not for the spotlight, but just to be seen for who we are. To not disappear or become invisible. And to hear someone else voice that was a huge burden off my shoulders. I am normal, it is ok to have this need.

    So thank you for this post and for your words which helped release some of the guilt and burden I have been carrying around.

  • Angel

    I too struggle with feeling invisible. I feel like I’m not seen. Even as a child always picked last for teams, or not included in activities with friends. I’m in my 50s now and it is still a battle at times. I have a loving husband of 28 years and 3 children and God Who takes me as I am. I am Blessed.

  • Kelli

    Getting to the place of knowing it’s not the photo that matters is a wonderful place to be. However, realizing that one day the photos could matter to someone else and that it’s okay that it’s not natural for the hubby to be all photo taking. . . Get to the place where it’s natural for you to hand him the camera and say snap 3 or 4 photos of me with the kids please. The photos don’t have to be good, you don’t have to be looking at the camera. The point is that it’s natural for both of you to experience this transition. Teach him that when you put the camera in his hands that he is meant to push the shutter. You’ll be happy you did!

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