It’s ridiculous how much just five little words can hurt.

“What are you doing here?”

And it’s ludicrous to think that even now as a grown woman I give those words the same power that I gave them when I was eleven-years-old.

Alongside puberty in a girl comes a painful self-awareness that she is inadequate in comparison with almost everyone else. When I was eleven I lived in fear of someone calling me out of a crowd, of being the center of attention and of people not wanting me around. I was clumsy and self-conscious and never felt like I fit in anywhere.

Before middle school began I tried to envision myself walking into the seventh grade lunch room, searching for a seat and then being asked, “What are you doing here?” By the time I got there, I did find friends but I still lived with the worry of being left out.

I don’t need anyone to ask me “What are you doing here?” because I ask it of myself. What am I doing here? I don’t belong here or anywhere else.

Though no one ever said it quite like I think they will, their gestures, their snubs and their “lost” invitations plagued me in middle school and early high school.

Years later, words like this still have the power they never should have.

I’m by myself at a wedding. My husband, who often plays guitar and sings in friends’ ceremonies, is nowhere to be found. He’s with the other musicians somewhere in the back.

It’s in a garden, a beautiful spread of roses upon roses and I’ve sat down in a chair by myself. The thing is, I know almost everyone here, but we’ve left this church and have moved on. It was a friendly split {on our part} but perhaps unfriendly on theirs? I hadn’t thought so. I’m just beginning to realize that I am not wanted here.

“What are YOU doing here, Sarah?” A woman asks as she comes up behind me before it begins. “I just didn’t know you would be invited.”

Ouch. I have no words so I try to smile.

Several months later I walk through the campus of my daughters’ school. A woman, another mother with whom I’ve been friendly from time to time, stops me in the breezeway.

“What are you doing here?”

Instantly I feel shunned, embarrassed and like I’m in the seventh grade lunch room again. People know me here and I had thought I belonged.

Five little words from her make me feel immediately like an outcast.

This week the theme on (in)courage is forgiveness when community has wounded you.  The only way that I know how to begin the process of healing anything, even the pain of five ridiculously powerful uttered words is to begin to participate in the healing process of others.

So I began to say five other words. Five words with power and intention and life.

“I’m so glad you’re here.”

I’m so glad you’re here, I say to friends who step over my threshold.

I’m so glad you’re here, I write when a new reader comes across my blog.

I’m so glad you’re here, is what we say when we meet another couple for dinner and a walk on the beach.

I’m so glad you’re here, I tell my daughters when they wake up on an autumn morning.

And with each positive utterance on my part I am able to forgive a piece of that which has been broken in me.

I’m so glad you’re here. Five different words with the power to heal. These words have the power to override the hurt and pain that comes from not fitting in, feeling as if we don’t belong and from feeling alone.

Today, friends, I’m so glad you’re here. If you’ve been wounded within community, if you’ve been carrying the scars of 5 little words, or if you’ve been cast out of a place of belonging today is for you.

I’m so glad you’re here. I am so glad you are here!

Let us tell one another that we value them, that we love them and that we are so happy that we all belong to Jesus. And by that maybe we can begin to allow the broken pieces inside us to heal.

Can you tell someone today that you are so glad they are in your life?


  • Natasha d

    Thank you, sarah! I can’t wait to start saying that! I love it!!! I’m so glad you are here, for me, (and all of us), this morning!!!!

    • Sarah Markley

      i love it! right? I think i’m going to say that the first thing to my kids this morning when they wake up. they need to hear it more, i think. =)

  • Beth

    I have struggled with this for years. Like you said, even when others weren’t rejecting me, I would be asking myself, “what am I doing here?” I don’t fit, I don’t belong, I’m not talking to anyone.. then I would make some excuse to leave early and go be alone or with the few people I was comfortable with. But the problem was, even though I could conveniently blame that on being an introvert, I love huge crowds. I have a gigantic family and I love when all of us are together and laughing, even in the silence it is companionable. I want to find that acceptance other places, and every one, including the church, has let me stand on the sidelines feeling awkward until I slip away. Thank you for the encouragement to be the welcom-ER for those I see who need it.

    • Sarah Markley

      i’m so sorry, beth. i very well understand the awkward, on the sides feeling of a church community. thank you so much for a bit of your story!

    • http://iamsogladyouarehere5littlewords sandra melton

      I to have felt rejected and so alone in crowds. i wish just one person would come up to me and help me feel welcome. people seem to stay where they are most comfortable and with their own people. i do;nt blame anyone. i just feel so left out. I have never liked attention because i feel clumsy and out of place most of the time. i was told from a child i was to not draw attention to oneself because if i did act excited i would not be invited or asked to join in. and that i was extremly clumsy constantly. I do not blame my family. I could have out grown this but I let it eat at me and it became a part of my personality. people think im outgoing but i force it. God gets me through every event i go to. My faith is my strength. I know God loves me.He is forever with me.God is my friend in all crowds. thank you for the 5 little words .I am so glad you are here

      • Sarah Markley

        thank you so much for this sandra! i’m so glad you are here. and my faith is my strength too. thank you for sharing a bit of your personal struggles.

  • Stacey

    Thanks so much for this Amazing post! So glad you are here to post this for all of us who are feeling a bit down in life. I’ve been feeling like I don’t belong in so many places & and have been staying away to avoid pain. Have A Great Day <3
    Simply Living By Faith,
    Stacey <3

    • Sarah Markley

      I feel the same way! We are all glad you are here today! =)

  • Karen

    This made me pause…..I have used that question on several occasions when being delightedly surprised to find my ‘circle’ crossed with someone else’s. I pray they did not feel slighted! THANKS for making me more aware. I will definitely be using “I’m so glad you are here” from this point forward!

    • Sarah Markley

      i totally get that! i’m sure i’ve said it before too =) I love how we can turn it on its head and make sure people feel welcomed. =)

  • Julie

    I am glad you are here. Truly. And that I am allowed to find you here. And I the same. Community has broken me- broken me into thousands of tiny pieces but they don’t really know that it has happened. If that makes sense. Regardless, there is brokenness. But I will greet that brokenness with 5 new words, I am glad you are here…

    • Sarah Markley

      I’m so glad you’re here too Julie. i’m so sorry that community has broken you. I’m so sorry.

      praying for the broken bits to be reassembled in beauty today.

  • Southern Gal

    I have felt that same sting. Yet, how often I say something similar not meaning it the way I take it.

    I’m beginning today with my son and working through church tonight. Thanks.

    I’m so glad you’re here!

    • Sarah Markley

      i’m so glad youre here too! i love it! =)

  • Andrea

    I think that we all dreaded that thought or even that phrase as it was said. I too still battle that phrase! I love your statement!!! I am adopting it TODAY!

    I am glad I was here to read it!!!!!

    • Sarah Markley

      please! take it! spread it!

      thank you so much for commenting. I’m so glad YOU’RE here!

  • Dana Butler

    Sarah, SO appreciated this post! I love the concept of overcoming our wounding and moving in the opposite spirit. [Rejection vs. delight and acceptance] I really believe that God brings deep healing to our hearts where we’ve been wounded like this in the place of our identity….as we step out and obey Him in extending acceptance and DELIGHT to those He places before us…. GOOOOOOOOD post. Thank you!!

    • Sarah Markley

      thank you so much, dana! I’m so glad you’re here!

  • Eileen

    On the day we are born God tells us by the creation of our being, He is glad we are here, that is why He made us, to be the only person we can be created to be. He had a purpose and a reason for your birth. He is glad your are here, for you can only do the things He has asked you to do, no one else can be you, like you can. May God bless us with being the best you (me) we can be.

    • Sarah Markley

      this is so true, eileen! he is the Grand Welcomer!

  • maya

    just don’t be bothered by others’ cynical words to us. Just spread the God’s love is not a waste. On the other hand, it grows peaceful mind in our life… :-)

    • Sarah Markley

      thank you maya! I’m so glad you’re here!

  • Carol

    This reminded me of something that happened when my son was very little. When he first woke up each day and started downstairs, I would meet him halfway, take him in my arms and say, “I’m happy to see you.” Then we would sit together and talk, or just snuggle. One day, for some odd reason, I didn’t say those words. My son sat there on the steps for a few minutes, then his little chin began to quiver. “Aren’t you happy to see me?” he asked. Oh my, how our words matter. He is 22 now. And I am still happy to see him.

    • Sarah Markley

      yes, carol. our words matter greatly! I’m so glad you’re here this morning! =)

  • Michelle DeRusha

    Believe it or not, I’ve even said those five words to my husband from time to time…like when he gets home from work early. Instead of saying, “Honey! I’m so glad you’re home early!” I make him feel unwanted, like he’s infringing on my precious alone time.

    Thanks for pointing out how those words can wound, Sarah.Next time my husband gets home from work early, I’m going to rephrase my welcome message!

    • Sarah Markley

      yes, our alone time is important, right? i know this well.

      Isn’t it interesting that we have the power to make someone feel wanted or unwanted very simply. thank you for this, michelle!! =)

      so glad you’re here!

  • Deanna

    Wow did I need this! That old rhyme Sticks and Stones is such a lie. I’m so glad you wrote about this and so glad I read it. I’m really glad you are honest and here! Thanks!

    • Sarah Markley

      right, words do hurt or heal. and I’m glad you’re here!! =)

  • Kim Duvall

    So Thankful for all the encouraging words that you send. I truly am so glad that you are here. You have touched my heart and encouraged me when I am going thru a season where it hurts and to know that God is and will sustain me…..Thank you for your Love for our Beautiful Savior Jesus..He is our Supply….and I want to give HIM all the praise…With much love to you my Sister in Christ

    • Sarah Markley

      i’m so sorry you are going through a rough season. God will sustain you! and I’m so glad you are here, kim!

  • Anna

    I am so glad you are here, making me cry, I really relate and needed to read that. I have sat on my own after church keeping an eye on my kids while everyone else seams to be chatting, feeling like there must be other people in the same place as me but not sure what to do about it, and to be honest sometimes not having anything left in me to be able to approach anyone if I knew what to say. I’m so glad you are here, it is so simple and truthful and freeing. Thank you.

    • Sarah Markley

      i’m so sorry anna. i know what you are feeling, i really do. thank you so much for being brave enough to share a bit of your struggle here! =) I’m so glad you are here!

  • Jen

    Thank you so much for those amazing words. I have struggled with a feeling of not belonging for so long. I too am often left on my own at functions as my husband is a pastor. I’m somewhat an introvert and my self-consciousness is not helped by my feeling of not belonging. I am always thinking that people are asking themselves what I’m doing here and they have to put up with me for a bit. I am going to use your 5 words, I’m so glad you are here to my family and friends. I especially want my two boys to always feel welcome in our house and wherever we are. Thank you – you put a whole new spin on it for me!

    • Sarah Markley

      ooh i love that jen! it IS the power of welcome, isnt’ it? so powerful. and Jen, i’m so glad YOU are here! =)

  • Robin in New Jersey

    Excellent post! I also like the phase, “It’s so good to see you.”

    • Sarah Markley

      oooh, that’s a great one too! i’m glad you’re here robin!! =)

  • Rachel Joyce

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us. There’s so much hiding and pretending going on around us. It is freeing and strengthening to read what you’ve written. Your honesty and openness helps us, your sisters, to respond with similar transparency to those around us who need to hear truth. I love how you’re letting God use you. Instead of hiding your hurt and allowing Satan the victory, you’ve let God touch you there, in that point of loss, and He has brought healing and glory from it. I’ve read that healing takes place in the light of God’s truth. May His light continue to shine brightly around you.

    • Sarah Markley

      thank you rachel. it was a bit of a hard post to write, so thank you very much for that. i agree that healing does take place in the light of truth. i’m so glad you are here, rachel! =)

  • Kristen

    What a wonderful phrase! I plan to begin using it… today!

    • Sarah Markley

      yay!! So glad you are here, Kristen! =)

  • Sandra

    Sarah thank you for your honesty. I have struggled with this all my life. At my age (40ish!) one would think it’s all in the past. Not so. EVERYWHERE I go I feel this, so I choose to stay home. Life is much easier when you choose to isolate yourself. I do have a few close friends, but otherwise I stay on a very superficial level with people. I do it to protect myself. It has made me feel worthless and unlovable for my entire life. If only others knew the trauma that words like that can inflict. The pain never goes away.

    • Sarah Markley

      i’m so sorry, sandra. yes, words inflict trauma and i don’t think most people think before they speak. thank you so much for having the courage to share some of your story here with us. And we are so glad you are here, sandra! =)

  • Jenna

    Sigh, yes. This has been my story over and over and over again.

    I have come to answer that question (at least silently) in two ways.
    1. God put me here, that’s why. When He gives me more information, I’ll let you know.
    2. True, I don’t fit in. Perhaps I was never meant to. Perhaps I am created to be different, set apart, so that He can use me for a special purpose that I wouldn’t get if i did “fit.” Today it hurts, but tomorrow… tomorrow I might write about it and many other hurting broken women will breathe a sigh and say “oh, dear, me too.” ;)

    • Sarah Markley

      Jenna, your words are so powerful. thank you so much for this comment. i think we have all been created for special things and i love that you seem to live in recognition of that. i’m so glad you are here, jenna!

  • LisaB

    I can see by all the posts that this hits home for way too many people. Thank you for the beautiful replacement words – I have been on both sides of this issue and only recently seen just how laid low we can ALL be made by someone elses words. A new friend, finely dressed, way out of my league as far as I was concerned, bared her heart to me and revealed that not everything is as it seems. I look at people with much more forgiveness and a lot less judgement.

    • Sarah Markley

      i think it does hit home, lisa. words are so powerful. thank you so much for your comment and I’m glad you are here!

  • Sara

    Oh Sarah I have so often faced those five words and they have teared at my heart. I am So glad you are here and thank you for coming.

    • Sarah Markley

      sigh. so sorry, Sara. thank you for your comment.

      I’m so glad you are here today!! =)

  • peyton

    wow! I think we have lived in the same skin. I always thought it would get better when I got older. When I got married. When I had children…. There is always another day that I will fit in. Though this was painful to relive and read I am grateful for the healing process you offered. I AM so glad that you are here!

    • Sarah Markley

      right, me too. age is a funny thing: it doesn’t heal all that we think it might.

      I’m so glad you are here, peyton! =)

  • Rachel Baker

    I can so relate to this post, thank you for sharing!

    I always felt that I never belonged anywhere in life, in some ways I still do!

    What a difference just altering those words can make in someones day, I will try and do that for other people.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Sarah Markley

      thank you for commenting, Rachel!

      belonging is a funny thing: in a way we give the power to others, but the power resides in us and in God’s identity for us. i also never really feel like i fit in either. =(

      i’m so glad you’re here, rachel!

  • Di

    Moving out of state, away from all my family, after a 25 year marriage in a tight knit family, I never felt so all alone. Finding a church wasn’t difficult, finding the church family was. And I know He never wanted any of His children to feel unwanted or unloved. So it is my prayer that many will share this and begin the change of “what” to “glad” – I know it will make a difference in many lives. Thank you Sarah for sharing this.

    • Sarah Markley

      yes!! the whole church family thing is hard, isn’t it?? thank you for commenting and i”m so glad you are here, di! =)

  • Renee Mock

    Hits close to home. I wonder if there is even one person that could say honestly they have NOT experienced this at least once in their lifetime.

    • Sarah Markley

      i think you are right, renee. i’m so glad you are here! =)

  • Etta

    Sarah, you speak to the hearts of many. Like others, there have been those hurtful words, glares and snubbed turn-aways. I know that my Father loves and treasures me and always wants me close by. People are people, most of the time they don’t even think about what they say or how they say it. I love your idea of 5 words and will use this phrase to encourage others! Can’t wait until I head home for lunch to say this to my wonderful husband. He will smile for sure.
    Blessings to you Sarah!

    • Sarah Markley

      YES! five words. did your husband smile?? i hope so =)

      i’m so glad you are here, etta!

  • Wendy

    I’ve been reading these posts on (in)courage for quite some time now. But I have to say this is the first time I have felt truly compelled to respond. Thank you for your words. I’ve been in a period of quite reflection, listening for God’s answers to my questions. I’m a fairly new Christian and I love my church and all my new brothers and sisters in Christ. They are so very nice to me. I know for sure that God has called me to be in this particular place at this particular time in my life. However, I am struggling to find a place to fit in. I am a single parent caught between the younger, single-with-no-kids group and the established families group. I don’t get invited to bible studies or small groups. I don’t get invited to parties and cook-outs and weekend camping trips. I just feel different, left out…. Surely there are other women in the church like me? Maybe there are and I just haven’t looked close enough to find them. Maybe they quietly slip in and slip out just like me…..
    Anyway….thank you again for sharing and God bless you!!!

    • Sarah Markley

      first of all, i’m so glad you commented Wendy. You are not alone, i’m sure. You have actually highlighted what I think is one of the biggest problems in the american church: if a family isn’t in the “family” mold, where does it fit? Older parents? families with grandparents only? single dads/moms?

      i’m so sorry that you’ve struggled to find the right fit. praying today for all of us to “fit” in the ways we need to.

      i’m so glad you are here. =)

  • Donna A.

    your words make me remember when i have been asked “what are you doing here”. & immediate rejection/hurt arose. Maybe we all should take this phrase out of our vocabulary..Thanks for your honest, thought provoking words.

    • Sarah Markley

      yes i love it donna!!

      and i’m so glad you’re here! =)

  • Nancy

    Oh Sarah – its not just the words- the facial expressing, the body language, the way they say it with those raised eyebrows! The best thing we can do to eliminate it -be Jesus to them and your greeting is the best way to begin!

    • Sarah Markley

      yes, very true nancy. I’m so glad you are here, by the way!! =)

  • Virginia Rush

    I love this and am sending it to my daughter to share with her daughters….I love this….I totally agree. and sometimes no words are needed, just a beautiful smile and eyes that say, “I love you seeing you” can make a world of difference….when you are too far away to say the words… this article. thank you

    • Sarah Markley

      thank you Virginia! when i get my kids from school in the afternoons, i always tell them ” I missed you today!! I couldn’t wait until 3 oclock!” i think it makes a difference.
      virginia, i’m so glad you’re here today! =)

  • Shirleyann

    Sarah, I had those exact words told to me when I arrived at a church member’s home to celebrate her birthday. Her husband had invited us and when she opened the door and looked at my husband and I she said those words. I felt so embarrassed and wanted to leave immediately, but we stayed. Looking back, I have long since forgiven her callous remark but now I can use your words to encourage others around me. Thank you for your insightful and inspiring words. God bless you! <3 Shirleyann

    • Sarah Markley

      that is so heartwrenching, shirleyann. you are a better woman than me b/c i think i would have left. thank you so much for your comment and i’m so glad you are here!

  • Sandi

    Thank You! And.. “I’m so glad your here!!!!! We all need to hear this, I for one will be saying these 5 words more often. What an impact.

    • Sarah Markley

      good!! me too! i know i need to hear it more, as well. I’m so glad you’re here, Sandi!

  • wanda

    Gosh, I love this!


    • Sarah Markley

      thank you Wanda! i’m so glad you’re here too!

  • Sharon O

    I try to give encouraging feedback and let others know they are appreciated. Hopefully my husband feels that too but it could be an area I can work on, thank you for the challenge.

    • Sarah Markley

      it’s hard for me too, esp with my husband. thank YOU for the reminder. i’m so glad you’re here Sharon!

  • Kate

    I am 62 and still feel 12 in social settings. What am I doing here??? Thanks for sharing. I am glad I am HERE.

    • Sarah Markley

      yes. me too. Thank YOU for commenting and I’m so glad YOU’RE here, Kate! =)

  • Alison

    This really hits home. The “rejected” scar seems to be one that can be very tender even after many years. Recently, after a church service, I approached a couple of friends just to chat socially only to be asked to leave them alone as they wanted to talk together. I’m sure they view me as quite strong and independent (and in many ways I am) but this really rocked me and even a few weeks later I’m still finding it hard to make further approaches to just to chat to people.

    On the other side, I have a deal with my husband to avoid me rejecting others which you might be interested in. My husband knows that if anyone at church asks me if the seat next to me is free that I will always say yes – and he needs to find somewhere else to sit when he arrives. Not because I don’t want to sit with him but because I don’t want to hurt the person looking for a seat.

    • Sarah Markley

      thanks for telling your story Alison! i love how you welcome people in church. it means so much to have that in a congregation! =)

      and I’m so glad you are here!! =)

  • Mandy

    Perfect, Sarah! I love this. I know the sting of those words and feelings. You’ve come up with a great solution. Thanks!

    • Sarah Markley

      thank YOU for your comment and, Mandy, I’m so glad you’re here today! =)

  • Sarah Bessey

    Beautiful. Love this.

    • Sarah Markley

      thanks girl!! =)

  • Adelweiss

    I have broken community and community has broken me. I can’t go back and “fix” what I have done but I can go forward and do better.

    • Sarah Markley

      I’m so sorry. community sometimes does the opposite of what it was designed to do. Again, i’m so sorry. but i am so glad you are here. =)

  • Courtney

    I love this! I teach Sunday school, and even though my kids are only two I make it a point to always greet them by name and say “I’m glad you’re here!”

    • Sarah Markley

      i think it means a lot, courtney. and I’m glad you are here too! =)

  • Anonymous

    I know why you are here! To touch lives like you have done through opening your heart to us! Thank you and I am so glad you are here!

    • Sarah Markley

      thank you!! me too! =)

  • Valorie

    I love this and I love how you’ve turned it around…to calm someone else’s spirit! To bring a smile ..instead of a frown! To bring peace vs stirring the waters of negativity.
    thank you for sharing your heart! I try to always make my greeting: It’s SO GOOD to see you!!! (a friend says it ..becuz, HE didn’t want to ask “hi, how are you”…he didn’t want to be “caught” is having to LISTEN to dreary tales of aches and pains…lol.) I say it now… It’s so good to see you….becuz it makes people SMILE and feel WANTED, LOVED. YOU ….have a most SPECTACULAR DAY!!!!!!! It’s SO GOOD to READ your heart. God Bless …..BEYOND MEASURE!!

    • Sarah Markley

      wouldnt it be amazing to trail peace wherever you go? “blessed are the peacemakers”

      thank you valorie! and i am so glad you are here! =)

  • Kristi

    This is the most fabulously timed post I could have read today, and it brought a smile to my face! I am consistantly looking for small ways that I can step outside of my own bubble and reach into the world of other people around me, and this seems like such a beautiful way to do it! :)
    I, too, have felt like an outcast (and more often invisible) most of my life and even in moments when I feel like I’m particularly welcome I still feel…less welcome than everyone else there.

    Its time to flip the switch and start welcoming people into our worlds rather than longing to be welcomed into someone elses. Perhaps they are feeling just as uncomfortable as we are, and we just don’t know it.

    • Sarah Markley

      yes, the power of welcome is a strong one. thank you kristi! and i’m so glad you are here!

  • Melissa

    This is definitely something I’m struggling with right now. I’m having a particularly hard time today. Whenever something negative happens it’s like my protective barriers get these huge cracks and all the struggles come rushing in and overwhelm me at once. Doesn’t matter what the trigger is – could be a difficult day with the kids, could be a spat with my husband. And my mind begins to drag up all the old hurts and snubs and wounds from my entire past history. It’s a battle to “take captive every thought” and reclaim my mind. So I needed this today.

    • Sarah Markley

      i’m sorry you are having a rough day today. praying your evening was a restful one and that you can feel welcomed.

  • Amanda

    Sarah, I’m so glad YOU’RE here :) Love this thought and can’t wait to put those 5 words into practice!

    • Sarah Markley

      thank YOU amanda (smiling). i’m so glad you’re here too!

  • Amanda

    This is great! Im so glad you shared this :). Ive definately experienced community wounds and have experienced healing through kindness. Its like once you’ve been hurt you realize you don’t want to be like that, or hurt someone in a similar way, so you make more of an intentional effort to include, and welcome others. I try to focus on my end of it…how will I respond? I have no control how others will treat me, but I do have a respnosibilty to love no matter how I’m treated. Ive also learned to let others know, in the nicest way possible, how certain words can hurt. Usually people don’t intentionally mean to hurt us…and sometimes calling it out can make them more careful in the future. p.s. Im so glad youre here!

    • Sarah Markley

      ps i’m glad you’re here TOO! =)

  • jenni ingram

    you’ve been reading my journal. wow, amazing so many others feel the same way! praying the second set of words will come out of my mouth more often :)

    • Sarah Markley

      nope. and yeah, crazy. so many people feel the same way! i love it that none of us are alone! =) i’m so glad you are here, jenni!

  • Heather McG

    Thank you so much for this post, Sarah.

    I’m so glad you’re here!

    Your posts over the last couple years since I joined (in)Courage have been so moving & also have helped my healing process. Our stories are so similar (even to the detail of both our husbands playing guitar) & I lived in a little box, trapped by my shame & feelings of unworthiness. Sure, God loved me no matter what, but…I didn’t feel like I deserved it. I grew up in an abusive home, felt rejected by family & shied away from peers, then had a family of my own & messed it up through my own selfish sinfulness. And yet, there’s still hope, because my heavenly Father, HE’s still glad I’m here. I’m glad I’m here, too, because being here means another chance, as well as an opportunity to pay forward the amazing love God continues to freely give. Thank you for reminding me on more than one occasion that I’m not alone!

    • Sarah Markley

      you are not alone heather. and i’m honored by your words. please know that I am SO glad you are here. so glad. thank you for this.

  • Crystal @ Serving Joyfully

    Love this!!! I, too, have been on the receiving end of the “What are YOU doing here?” Just last month, my husband and I went back to my hometown…we moved 5 hours away at the end of July, and went back to tie up some loose ends at the end of August. A lady we know looked at us and said “You’re visiting *already*” I was like…wow.

    But, the up-side of this is that I spend so much time living in that place of “what are YOU doing here?” (both of my own doing and from inconsiderate comments of others), that I go out of my way to do the opposite and make others feel welcome. Never thought of those positive things leading to forgiveness, but I think focusing on positive things and feelings can definitely counteract the bad. I pray you have a blessed day!

    • Sarah Markley

      thank you crystal. i love it. =)

      i’m so glad you are here!

  • Jennifer@GDWJ


    I feel these words deep. A few months ago, I ran into a couple of acquaintances, and I was not dressed like the others. I was overdressed, not a lot, but clearly, “one of these things was not like the other…” One of these acquaintances said to me: “Wow, Jennifer. You look like a fish out of water.” I could have let it sting, and fester a while, but I just figured that this person was dealing with a whole other set of insecurities. I didn’t want the words to drag me down. So I just said, “You’re right. I often am a fish out of water.” I didn’t know how else to deal with it. Some people really say the darnedest things.

    • Sarah Markley

      yes. shaking my head because i know people exactly how you described. recently, with one particular individual in my inlaws extended family we decided to kill that kind of talk with kindness and the woman laughed! it was great! her hard exterior was taken away and she realized how silly she sounded. sometimes that works and sometimes it doesnt but it’s a great story.

      know that you are welcomed here and we are so glad to have you! =)

  • Maria Dunn

    Amen. I feel these words too. And oh yes, how easy it is to relive those middle school feelings. Thank you for sharing and helping to think about changing the dialogue within and creating a new better response.

    • Sarah Markley

      oh yes, yes. let none of us ever have to return to middle school. ever. =)

      i’m so glad you are here maria! =)

  • Tamerriell

    SO GLAD YOU WROTE THIS!!!! 5 words from me to you. What a blessing this was.

    • Sarah Markley

      thank you! and i’m so glad you’re here!

  • Sharon @ Hiking Toward Home

    This is perfect timing for me Sarah.
    Yes, hurt by community and still battling bitterness over it too.
    The Lord has been speaking a lot about forgiveness to me lately.
    You are yet another messenger. :-)
    Thank you.

    • Sarah Markley

      i’m so sorry, sharon. with his grace, only, i think sometimes. =) thank you for being here!

  • Sarah Lee

    I just had those words said to me for the first time very recently. I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. From time to time I let myself linger on those words and they hurt. They just hurt.

    I’m going to start using your new saying, especially with my daughters. I absolutely love it. Thank you.

    • Sarah Markley

      i think that’s great sarah! it’s a great thing to say to kids.

      and sarah, i’m so glad you’re here! =)

  • Anna Radchenko

    wow I love that… “I’m so glad you’re here!” So crazy how a different five words can bring healing why the other five can break down. I’ve definitely been needing these posts on community as the past few months have seen trial after trial in my own church community right now. Thankfully, by God’s grace, He’s been preparing me through these posts, prayer, and Scripture to make things right and be the woman of faith He’s called me to be.

    • Sarah Markley

      yes, anna. by His grace. i’m so glad you are here! =)

  • Nancy Ruegg

    What a simple but powerful way to turn negative input into positive output. I want to tell everyone I meet, “I’m so glad you’re here!”

    • Sarah Markley

      yes! i think we should! what a difference it would make.

      i’m so glad you are here today, nancy! =)

  • Kristen Miller

    I’m so glad you wrote this. :)

    Thank you!

    • Sarah Markley

      thank you kristen! i’m so glad you are here! =)

  • Karen Fawcette

    Yes, there’s nothing worse than when your church makes you feel like you invaded, overstepped, or just don’t fit in… a church I used to go to started a single mom’s group and a friend approached me and said she thought I would be asked to lead, so I was excited when I was invited….but so hurt and disappointed when the pastor himself asked questions around the room about what was needed for this ministry and when he came to me, he just said ‘Karen you just need Jesus!’ I didn’t get to respond or input, and I was so hurt that I was viewed more as needy, than as having something to offer…. and again, when I would submit prayer requests for my youngest son, going through some tumultuous years, was approached one day by leadership and asked ‘what more do you want from us?’… needless to say, I stopped asking for prayer (from them anyway) stopped going to that church… and because they could not see my need was real, valid and urgent — my son is now in jail. It hurts when your community, whether it’s friends or church, don’t see your needs and ask what are you doing here? Don’t we all go to community to get a need filled? How sad when rejection like that sends us down a different road entirely. Good thing God is still in control! Because HE is glad WE are here! :-)

    • Sarah Markley

      i’m so sorry, karen. that pastor should not have said that and i’m so sorry he did. i’m so sorry for your pain and that the community could not be there for you then. please know you are welcomed here and that we will pray for you!

      • Karen Fawcette

        Thank you Sarah… I have found a ‘better for me’ community to be involved in… not that I still don’t have unmet needs…but I am loved and validated there. The other church was great at taking care of practical needs but mine were more hands-on. …btw, my son is okay, even in jail — he has recommitted his life to Christ… prayer for him is coming from everywhere. And I am growing closer once again to the One who is always there for me. Thanks for this group — I appreciate you!

  • Diana Trautwein

    Oh my, Sarah – you’ve struck such a tender place with this one. Look at this list of comments and the pain so many of them represent. I’m willing to bet that sometimes those 5 hard words aren’t even meant to hurt – they’re just plain thoughtless. Which, of course, is what hurts the most. So thinking ahead, like you’re encouraging us to do, and offering just the tiniest twist on those original 5 – well, that’s perfect. Thank you.

    • Sarah Markley

      i agree diana! usually it is just thoughtlessness. i’m learning to weigh my own words carefully. thank you for your insightful comment and i’m so glad you are here!! =)

  • http://facebook Christi

    I’ll be 61 on Sat., & I still have the hurt that was placed on me during high school by a classmate. I have prayed for her & for me to be able to completely forget it. I stressed to my children to never talk about anyone or be mean or disrespectful. Not too long a go, I realized that my children have no idea of how I feel & how it’s shaped who I am. I too, know what it’s like to feel like everyone else belongs, but me. So, I’m so glad you are here to allow those of us who feel isolated or alone to read about others who have had the same experience & that I need to realize it’s only a feeling & not reality…Blessings

    • Sarah Markley

      oh i’m so sorry christi! i hope you don’t feel so isolated any more. please know you are welcome here!

  • Rose

    I am 72 years old and have felt this way all my life. What am I doing here?

    Glad to see that I am not alone and it is not to late to feel glad that I am here.

    • Sarah Markley

      no, rose, you are not alone!

      we are all so glad you are here! =)

  • Cristina

    Sarah, thank you so much for this healing post. I have to say I have felt like an outsider most of my life, I always felt like I didn’t belong. Being a shy kid didn’t help. Today I am fighting every day with my fear of talking to new people and the feeling that I don’t belong. I realise it is mostly a feeling but it led me to analise every word I am saying and every gesture I make. Healing is a long process but I am lucky to have a partner who got to know me and who helps me realise that most of it is just a feeling and the reality is different. Thank you so much again!

    • Sarah Markley

      i have to fight against that every day too (push down the anxiety, right?) and i married an extreme extrovert so go figure. =)

      i’m so glad you are here with us today, cristina! =)

      • Cristina

        I know, usually the opposites attract each other… he is probably providing you with great balance :-)

        I am glad to be gere and I am glad you made all of us feel like we belong.

        Thank you!

  • Beth Williams

    Loved how you turned a negative into a positive. I will try saying –Thank you for being here or Glad to see you today!

    • Sarah Markley

      thank you beth! and i’m glad you’re here today! =)

  • Emily Cook

    I’m so glad you’re here!
    So much better than the question… even the “hi, how’s it goin’?” question that I often ask. Welcoming- so important for us to be welcoming, especially in the church.
    We pass on the welcome we have received in jesus.
    Thank you for this post.

    • Sarah Markley

      yes, the whole idea of “welcome” is something i’ve been thinking about lately. I’m glad you’re here, emily! =)

  • Sonya

    So beautifully written and well said! I have been in that place so many times. Sadly, many of those times were in church. I’m so thankful for the Lord’s healing touch on those wounds. Thank you for the welcome!

  • Breeann

    I definitely know this feeling well. I had a horrible experience in jr. high that scarred me for a long time…and it still creeps up. I’m always worried about what other people are thinking of me, and I read too much into the looks people give me or conversations I’m not asked to be a part of. Thank you for sharing your heart on how we can get past this and welcome people. I know I’m probably guilty of not being very welcoming all the time myself. xoxo

  • Petra

    Sarah, you have such a gift and I’m so glad you’re there! Your words are so affirming and honest, I value that so much

    Petra x

  • dad

    dearest daughter…

    so true your words…
    so deeply did i feel your hurt as i read of them…i wish i would’ve, could’ve known & taken away the hurts you felt during those years…and now too…but parents & kids only share a little bit during “the heat of adolescent battle”…

    we ALL feel our own hurts years later…still do…
    but, i believe you ARE right…true healing comes to us only in the giving away of grace, forgiveness, mercy…the hurts do NOT disappear, but they take on a proper status to the rest of our lives…

    as we give out to others the grace we have been given, the scar tissue becomes strong, young heart-muscle tissue destined to live forever alongside Jesus!

    love you,

  • Diane Bailey

    Words that never get old to the hearer. Thank you for the welcome! I’m so glad to be here!

  • coco

    Has anyone EVER said, “Wow! I loved junior high school!” ?

    For probably 45 out of my 51 years I’ve done the same thing to myself as so many others here, making myself feel unwelcome just by doubting myself and my right to be wherever it was…often, like some others, I tried to reject before I was rejected.

    But just this summer things have come together in a way that when, in a Bible study, it was suggested that we ask God to speak to us about who we are in Him and why we’re here, I got it. I don’t know exactly what the words were, but the message was very clear: you’re here because I love you. And for whatever reason, I heard Him. And things have changed. My prayer for your readers is that they “get it” too.

    I am so glad you – and they – are here.

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  • JulianneB

    Sarah, just the words I needed today. I am living in transition right now. My husband began a new ministry two hours away. The kids and I are here until he finds housing. I feel like my friends here have basically said “goodbye” even though I am here, and I am only in our new home on weekends. I know good will come and they are excited for us to be there in our new ministry. Today was just one of those hard days. Thanks for your encouragement.

  • Janice Miller

    I’m so glad I found you here, Sarah! Thank you for these wise words.

  • Stephanie

    I’m sorry I missed meeting you at Re:Write, Sarah. I loved every minute of the conference, though I was quiet and had to slip out at the breaks to feed my 5-month-old baby. What did you think of it?

    Also: I’m so glad you were there. :)