I lived most of my life on the edges of cliques. I walked the borders between groups of friends and I bridged gaps between people. And this, of course, was all unintentional because I always would have rathered to just be IN.
Into the inside jokes
Into the shared experiences
Into the sameness while I stood apart.
Just the nature of a group implies that it is a closed thing and someone will always be hurt.
I don’t know that there are any of us who haven’t been wounded in some way by being excluded. I have. You have.
Yet I realize I’m a part of a lot of groups myself. I’m a part of closed groups. I’m a part of small, close things that no one on the outside gets. I’m a part of invitation-only, cloistered circles that are quiet and safe and lovely. I’ve also weaseled my way into groups of friends that are large and nebulous and free. Everyone knows everyone and everyone loves everyone and there is a whole lot of back-patting and I’m-praying-for-you’s.
But I also know the pain of being left out.
I’ve stamped my boot in the spring soil even as recently as this year saying I-would-not-will-not go that conference because All of the People are a part of a group I will never breach. Stamped my foot like a little girl and took my dollies and went home.
I’m not a part of that post-college circle with whom I always dreamed of sharing laughter and meals. I’m not inside of the central group at the school or the core group at church. I’m on the outside of so much.
So I am both on the inside and on the outside. I’ve been the wounder and wounded. I’ve been the cloistered and the excluded. And I would venture to say, so have all of us at some level.
The truth is we all like to surround ourselves with safe people. We pad our worlds with love if we can and often that love comes in the form of friends. We feel the safest when we are known.
Maybe the need to become known is why we operate this way.
It’s why even the most friendly of us will naturally find ourselves leaning toward our “people” in a large group because it feels safe. It’s why when we walk into a big room we scan the crowd for familiarity. It’s why we say the words, “Save me a seat.”
We are known.
That place of wanting to be known is what drives us to form cliques and groups and circles of safe, loving people. But what we really want is to be known intimately by the One who created us and who thought about us before time began.
I wonder if we could take more intentional steps toward
Being known by God,
Being known by our families,
And being known by ourselves.
Then maybe the exclusion/inclusion wouldn’t have the same impact and we wouldn’t feel the same pain.
Even so, knowing all of this still doesn’t make it feel good when we aren’t invited, when that invitation goes to the other girl and not to me. When the invitation says, Hush. Don’t tell so others won’t feel bad. What is wrong with me that I can’t be a part of that group? What is wrong with me that I am not chosen?
Nothing. Nothing is wrong with you or with me. In fact, we’ve been chosen and invited before the start of the world.
So may I have a heart and soul that is open to the whispers of God when He invites me to
“go talk to her,”
“go love her,”
And I enter into relationships that I would never have dreamed would have been for me.
We’re invited by the One who’s throwing the only party that matters.