On Hunter Hayes’ and being Invisible

I’ve wanted to write about Hunter Hayes’ song “Invisible” for quite some time now.  So, if you haven’t heard it, do yourself a favor and listen to it before reading on.  You can find it here.

Before I go on about the song, let me tell you a story from when I was in junior high school.  I was short.  Like shorter than short.  (I’m still short by the way!) Anyway, it was 1976 and I was in eighth grade.  I had been picked on a lot by other students primarily because I was short.  I had a short friend named Annemarie and we were the short girls club that hung out together.

One day, while in the girls locker room, some taller girls decided it would be fun to see if Annemarie and I would fit inside the rolling cage that carried all the softball equipment.  We were stupid enough to try it and then the girls grabbed a lock and locked us in there.  Yep… two little shorties locked in a teeny tiny cage where we just might have to spend the night while our parents spent a worried night thinking we had run away.  Oddly enough, I don’t remember panicking.  I don’t remember anything but the sound of the lock, the girls laughter, and I remember being furious.  And, for the first time in my life, I remember rising up in strength to defend myself and my friend. I shouted at them,

YOU LET US OUT OF HERE NOW!

And you know what? They stopped laughing and they did it.  I was truly shocked.  I don’t know what got into me.  I don’t know why my strong, loud words made a difference, but they did.  We were freed, never to fall for a stupid trick like that again.

These days, that would be called “bullying.” In 1976 it was just a silly, harmless prank. A song comes to mind that was popular in the late 1970’s.  If you can stand it, you can hear the song, Short People, here. (I wonder if Randy Newman ever regrets recording this song!) It reminds me that we live in an age of heightened sensitivity to the marginalized and outcast, and it’s a good thing.  Why on earth would short people have nobody to love or reason to live? I digress!

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So back to Hunter Hayes.

The song Invisible is really popular right now.  And why is that?  I think it’s because all of us can relate to it on some level or another.  It speaks to that part of us that feels misunderstood, overlooked, devalued.  Many say this song speaks to the issue of bullying.  And I believe that is true, but I believe there is more than that to it.

The song speaks to people who are different, are bullied, are rejected, are treated as less than the valuable person they are.  His video portrays bullied students, neglected children, a rejected boyfriend, a disappointed mother.  The words and images are powerful, because we have all been there.  And it hits me hard in my heart, because I hear the words,

Trust the ONE who’s been where you are wishing all it was was sticks and stones.  Yeah the words cut deep but they don’t mean you’re all alone, you’re not invisible.

I hear Jesus in those words.  He was bullied, outcast, rejected, devalued.  I hear the ONE who’s been there.  And I believe he sings this song to the invisible ones everywhere.  To the Dalits in India oppressed by society, to girls sold into sexual slavery, treated as commodities instead of valued for their humanity.  He sings to the lonely widow, the homeless veteran, the betrayed husband, the mentally ill teenager trying to find her place in the maze of “normal” people.  He sings over you and he sings over me.  He says,

You are my beloved and on you my favor rests.

Hunter Hayes says One day you’ll look back on all this pain and it’s gonna be, invisible. I don’t believe that exactly.  Our pain never really becomes invisible.  It becomes a part of who we are.  It shapes us. It defines us. We’re wounded, but even in the healing the scars are visible.  They are a reminder of God’s grace and mercy. Don’t try to ignore or erase the scars.  Let the scars be a testament to God’s great recycling of painful things into useful things.  Remember he causes all things to work for our good.

I don’t know if Hunter Hayes believes in Jesus or not, but I sure am glad that he wrote a song that tells us about Jesus, whether he intended to our not.

Wherever you are today, feeling invisible or not, trust the ONE who has been where you are.  He loves you.  He cares for you.  He longs to hold you even in the midst of overwhelming invisibility.

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