A couple of years ago I stood between 4 ladies that I shared in ministry with as they recounted their weekend away together. And I hesitate to tell you how much it hurt. There I was a grown woman feeling so young. Every teenage hurt boiling up in me I pretended not to care. I pretended it didn't hurt that I wasn't included. Pretended I wasn't angry. Of course as usual I don't hide my feelings well so the others felt the awkwardness of the moment and the awkwardness was attributed to me. Simply because human hurt and need don't quite fit inside stories of laughter and good times. Oh and I do awkward quite well. So in this weird moment of silence I fought tears back and somehow managed to alienate myself from them further. This distance that had started growing many months before had come to a head until there was no room for me within private jokes and shared stories I had no part in. And of course my awkwardness just gave them more reason to not include me. After all weekend getaways aren't quite as fun with that creepy, emotional girl.
Many months later I would sit down to apologize to these ladies because they felt that I had distanced myself from them. Which to protect myself I had. However they failed to realize that connections are hard formed in groups that label themselves BFF's, who save seats for one another and who make it clear that they share a bond the others do not. But God had called me in that moment to confess my own failures, not point out there's. So I swallowed my pride as I was told that it was quite childish of me to be jealous, fought back the part of me that wanted to say how childish it was to form cliches. In the moment my shame at needing to be included outweighed my need to defend myself. I hated the hurt and the insecurity and yes I did feel childish. I guess I believed that age should have protected me from hurt and softened insecurity.
Now before it appears that Im saying Im above all that let me make it clear that I would do it in a heartbeat. I would gladly welcome a place where I was on the inside. Get giddy over be included. Proudly display Facebook post of my group of very inclusive friends sharing a laugh together. I would happily join in the festivities of a weekend away with a group of friends that found me worthy. And yes I would question the mental age of someone who's feelings get hurt. Its easy to do that from the inside. I would do all these things because by nature we long to be included. We long to form relationships that are unique and special. We long to belong to something.
I guess what I'm asking myself today (once again tasting the all too familiar sting of not being included) is where does it fit inside the body of Christ. I mean were meant for community and we even see Jesus having a small group of close friends. Yet I also know that I'm not Christ. My motives are far from pure. My tendencies towards self promotion & self satisfaction bare no similarity to Jesus.
What I know for certain is that from the outside looking in on a close knit group of people it hurts. It hurt!! From the outside looking in it breaks my heart to not be included. From the outside looking in your night away, your random lunches, however quickly planned & unintentional, ignite my worst fear.. I don't belong. And from that place the enemy has so much room to cause division in a body that was never meant to be divided. Because all in all the body of Christ was meant to be inclusive. And if Ive been there, knee deep in feeling like I'm on the outside, how do I continue on in anything that even hints of exclusion? However unintentionally.
Honestly I know this isnt all black and white. As much as we have to be careful to be inclusive, we also have to be careful to not let our personal insecurities trick us into believing that we have to be included in everything to be of value. Not everything is a clear right or wrong.
What is clear though is that God called us..
"to share" the good news of Jesus
"to welcome" more people
"to extend" an invitation to all the world!!
Which what it boils down to is bringing people in from the outside.
So how do I do that?
Maybe its reminding myself how small I felt 2 years ago standing between those ladies or setting my mind on a Father & Son that chose to include me.