I was scrolling through Facebook the other day, and there it was: another picture of people I know having a blast without me. Not to be a total baby about it, but I was so sad. Disappointed. Why hadn’t they thought of me? What had I done to not get an invitation? I’ve dealt with this for years. Haven’t you? You find people you love to be with and yet they always seem to prefer to be with people other than you. The invites don’t come. And you harp on it more than you want to. But that’s what we do, right? We analyze all the words we’ve said, the words maybe we should have said, the “why are they so close?” and “what aren’t we close?” and “I thought we were closer.” But you don’t say anything. Because, golly, no one wants to be the person feeling left out, let alone the person who has the audacity to admit she feels left out. We all just want to fit. To belong.
I’m continuing to learn that no matter our age, we’re going to be hurt by other people. It’s a lesson I keep learning, though I feel as though I could have earned a PHD in DBP (Disappointment By People). Do you know what I mean? The invitations we don’t receive. The people who dislike us and we can’t figure out why. The conflicts that arise despite our best intentions. The times we stand alone waiting for someone to come up to us and give us the love we’re too shy to request. As women, sometimes it seems as though we feel this deeper than men. Sometimes it feels like we’re the ones who keep drawing the short stick when all we want is to belong, to fit, to be loved extravagantly – or sometimes even just a little.
No matter our age, we are still seeking to fit in. We can’t help it. It’s part of our humanity as people on this earth, and particularly as women in a society weighed down with unrealistic and unholy expectations. So we look for the perfect fit in our friendships, in our marriages, the right church, the perfect town, the idyllic house. Even when we think we don’t care, when we’re going to stick our head in the sand and give up, even there we seek the fit.
We can even be disappointed with our face buried in the sand.
But here’s the truth. There are going to be people who dislike us – no matter how much like Christ we try to be. There will be people who dislike us BECAUSE of Christ in us, and there will be others who don’t even know why they don’t like us; they just don’t like us. We’re holy sandpaper to them. We rub them the wrong way. We’re going to scroll Facebook and other social media and see people having fun without us. We’re not always going to be invited despite a longing to belong, to fit in a group that won’t let us in. We’re going to battle loneliness and sadness and days when we can’t get our act together.
So what can we do about it? Putting our head in the sand hasn’t helped. And feeling sorry for ourselves only makes us feel worse.
We can pray about it. Absolutely. Because God sees our every longing (Psalm 37:9) and He knows every word before it is even on our tongue (Psalm 139:4).
But here’s an additional idea the book of Hebrews gave me today as I prayed over this.
Hebrews 13:2 tells us to show hospitality to strangers because by doing so, we might show hospitality to angels without knowing it. This verse might refer back to Genesis 18 when Abraham welcomed the Lord and two of his angels without knowing it. Though Abraham had no idea who these men were, he welcomed them with a feast that would have taken hours to prepare – and I assume he had to entertain them in the hours in between. (You know how awkward small talk can be.) In showing this extreme hospitality, he honored the Lord, and as a result received the final word of a promise twenty-four years in the making.
Here we are struggling to even maintain friendships, to find a place to belong, to fit. We struggle with the people close to us letting us down. What can a verse about strangers teach us?
When I read this verse, I am reminded that we receive our blessings when we reach out and bless others: strangers, friends, co-workers, the people we might tend to avoid making eye contact with, the people who always feel like they prefer to be alone instead of a part of the crowd, panhandlers, beggars – you get the idea. Abraham showed three strangers as much generosity, kindness, and significance as if God himself were standing there. Little did he know at the time that God himself WAS standing there as one of the visitors. Perhaps it was because of Abraham’s selfless servant hood to these men that he received the final word of the promise that he would be the father of all nations, that his offspring would one day outnumber the stars in the sky.
For twenty-four years, Abraham and his wife had tried for a child. In their old age her womb had died, was barren as the desert itself, and the promise didn’t feel like it fit in their life. Sarah was so discouraged, tired of hoping on a missing-puzzle-piece-promise that she actually laughed at this final word, that she’d have a baby in one year’s time. Yeah right. That dog won’t hunt.
We can feel so disappointed in people that we can laugh at the idea of finding our fit. We can feel like we’re the forgotten ones in a Facebook newsfeed of fun. We can feel like the only thing we’re birthing is loneliness.
BUT when we lift our head out of the sand pit we’ve plunged it into, and despite of all this hurt swirling inside of us, we make others feel welcome in our life, our heart, our home, a dinner or even in a small conversation, we are inviting God to work through our lives. We are both becoming angels to others and welcoming angels into our life. We are giving grace when we ultimately desire to receive it. We are being life givers when it’s life we seek. And we are opening ourselves up to messengers of God. Because what if – WHAT IF – one of those strangers or estranged friends or family – might carry a message from God that will be a perfect fit for that missing part of us, that part we’ve been trying mightily to fill on our own?
When we make others feel welcome in our life, our heart, our home, a dinner or even in a small… Encourage a Friend
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