I felt the sting of rejection when I heard the ladies whispering about the most fabulous dinner party that they had just attended. My mind immediately went inward. I thought, “Why were we not invited?” I felt resentment as I thought of my husband and me sitting at home. Yes, it hurt. Holidays should be a time to build memories with friends and family. But it doesn’t always happen the way we think it should happen, especially when the invitation never comes.
On another occasion I heard “We will be invited to your Christmas Dinner Party next year” from a friend sarcastically demanding the invitation as we set the table together at my house for a meal we had just invited them to. In a way it was an oxymoron. We had just invited this couple into our home for dinner, yet they still! felt slighted for not being invited to a specific dinner party the year before.
Dinner invitations can be a sensitive subject to many, when either the invitation never comes, or the invitation doesn’t happen the way they guests it should.
Some may have hurt feelings from being on the “outside” when they really want to be on the “inside.” I’m singing to the Christmas choir here as I share that many years ago I taught my children that life is not always about us, and yes, we will not be invited to every single party that we want to be invited to. Yet sometimes this can be very painful. I instructed my children, now teenagers, that they would hear about parties, and although it was okay to feel the disappointment, to quickly get over it. Not everyone can be invited to the party. Parents have to put a limit on numbers; I know this because I’ve held many birthday parties in my home.
Party invitations are teachable moments with our children, opportunities to keep our perspectives healthy as we remember that life is about more than “me.”
The same philosophy goes for grown-up parties.
As I write in my book The Reluctant Entertainer, hostessing is often an art. Sometimes it takes a lot of thought and preparation, planning who you want to invite and the dynamic of what you want the dinner party to be. Not always, but sometimes. Hospitality is about making your house warm and welcome. Many times when practicing hospitality, you do not even have time to think about the “invite.” It just happens – spur of the moment when you open your home.
For those who feel they never get invited to the party, I have a very simple, encouraging idea to share. Create your own party. Get your mind off of yourself and make your home what you want it to be. Instead of waiting for the invitation to come from others, start inviting others in. Show your children what it means to be hospitable, create a home of love and openness for others to join in, invite the people that you long to be with and with whom you desire deeper connections.
The party begins with you.
Even if you do not have children, surround yourselves with love and joy and intimacy with neighbors, family, friends, the lonely or the weak. Create a place of rest for others to come to celebrate the joys of the season. Again, when the invitation doesn’t come, I want to be reminded to put my mind on the real invitation that keeps me grounded in my faith, with hope and a right perspective.
“Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received!” (II Peter 1:3, The Message).
Have you been hurt by not being invited to “the party?” Or have your taken your hurt and used it for good? Share with us in the comments and I’d love to give away a copy of my book to two of you!
By Sandy Coughlin, Reluctant Entertainer