It happened again. I can’t say that I am completely shocked . . . but still, it did kind of surprise me. It was a situation I am all too familiar with: I wasn’t invited. I found out about a celebration with some friends. It was a gathering that I fully expected I would have been invited to. But I wasn’t.
This group of friends has a rich and beautiful history together. I don’t begrudge their friendship. I just want to be a part of it.
See, I have always been a fringe friend. I know a ton of people. I have a ton of friends. All of those friends have their inner circle, as it were. At 42, I’ve never had that. I’ve never had that inner circle. That’s been hard in many ways.
It means wondering who you can turn to when something hard happens or who you can call when something amazing happens. My friend Sam and I are very similar, and we have this conversation regularly. We discuss the sting of rejection and the pain of not being included.
I know friendships are complicated and messy, along with being beautiful and life-giving. Sam shared with me some of the ways she’s processed situations where she wasn’t included. She said that she’s had to be careful to not partner with the narrative of “this always happens to me,” even if it does.
That can be difficult for me to navigate at times. I feel like I have grown and matured in my over 20-year walk with the Lord. I don’t think I am as easily offendable as I was in my youth. I don’t think my standards in friendship are crazily unreasonable or super high. And yet, I find myself in these situations more often than I would care to admit.
Honestly, I’m not sure why. I speculate and wonder and worry. I come up empty every time, except for the myriad of questions swirling around in my head. The pain of being left out or feeling left out hurts like few things can. I know I can’t force people to love me, want me, or include me.
I’ve been on a journey of forgiveness, healing, and finding freedom in this area. By no means do these come easily. But, they are in every way worth the effort.
I think about the life of Jesus. He lived rejected in almost every way by many He knew and cared about. It breaks my heart and yet I consider myself to be in great company.
Isaiah 53:3 says, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.”
This chapter in Isaiah is one of my favorites. It describes our suffering servant. Jesus chose to come to earth knowing that not everyone would receive and accept Him. But, He counted being reconciled to us as joy. He showed everyone He encountered unconditional love, lavish grace, and unending forgiveness.
This life of Christ is the life that we are called to today. Though He was hurt, He never sought revenge. When He was angry, He never lashed out.
I want to lash out. I want to seek revenge. I want people to know how much they’ve hurt me. But, that wouldn’t bring me any peace. So, I take all of my feelings, disappointment, fear, and pain and I lay them on the altar of God. I yield to the work of the Holy Spirit, and I let Him cleanse me of all unrighteousness.
I’m so tempted to become bitter and jaded and offended. I’m tempted to avoid those who have hurt me. But this would take me down the broad road of destruction. These responses would give a foothold to the enemy.
This is not the way of Jesus. His narrow road is found by few. I want to be one who finds it.
Friendships require intentionality, patience, grace, and a ton of communication. They require work and that’s okay. I’m learning. I’m in process. The Lord knows and understands. He loves us and His heart is toward us. He is the Father that comes running full speed ahead in our direction.
If you’ve ever felt rejected, I’d love to hear your story and pray for you!
Ruth Mills says
Been the fringe friend for as long as I can remember. Yet as I’ve grown in Christ-likeness I’ve become the 1 who “who comes running full speed ahead” in the direction of those in my path. It’s been said to have a friend you must be a friend. There are those I used to be closer to & now am not included for whatever reason…they have kids we don’t, their income outpaced ours, geography changed etc etc etc. Yet they are part of my story & vice versa. I am a better friend to others because what I learned from time spent with them. May I live offering friendship & support so that no matter how long the season with another might be, they too can look back & see they learned valuable life lessons along side me. When the feeling left out & less than raises it’s ugly hand in me, I go bake the cookies & bless another person who might also need the gift of inclusion.
I feel exactly the same. It is the reason i am not on Facebook. It hurt me to see my friends doing things that I wasn’t invited to. And then 8 years ago I had a health issue and now I am unable to drive. So now I feel that I am an inconvenience as friends need to go out of their way to include me. I rest though on God’s promises and know who takes care of me but it still bothers me. I am working on it though.
Thank you so much for this,
Beth Williams says
You are not an inconvenience to anyone. God loves & so do your friends. Reach out to some of them. Give them a call or text them & say hello. Sometimes we have to take the first step in friendships. Praying & asking God to send friends your way.
You are me….this has been my life long experience of having tons of friends but rarely included…I always seem to be on the fringe of any group.
I have always figured it had to be me as it happens all the time but for the life of me, I can’t figure out what “it” is. I try to stay hopeful and every time I meet a new person, I think, maybe they would become a good friend. I volunteer, join interest groups, bible studies, walking groups, you name it. I’ve tried it. My trust is that GOD will provide that one true friend….but at age 61, I sometimes laugh as I remind God of my request for a true friend in my prayers, could it just be before I go to the nursing home? .
Kimmie G says
I’m a total introvert…..to my own detriment. Friends know I don’t like crowds….or large groups so I don’t get invited. I also watch some friends who “have to be seen” everywhere. I don’t want to be that person either.
Please pray for my Mama (Linda) and me (AmaTHa). We are two that have been rejected and left out constantly throughout or lives. And it seems more and more in these past 5 years we have been completely left out as you described, forgotten, or intentionally rejected. At this point we have even been forced out of our church and abandoned by all who where supposed to love us. But still God is Faithful and while they might have chosen not to love us, to forget us, and to reject us, He still loves us and that gives me comfort. We (especially I) battle bitterness though so your prayers would be greatly appreciated! 🙂 <3
Carolyn J Moffett says
I really needed this —-Thanks so much —
Sarah Ceasar says
I resonate with your story alot. I’m 42 years old & also have many friends. About 12 years ago I became very sick & began my journey down a very long, twisted path of fighting Chronic Neurological Lyme Disease. Slowly but surely, the Lyme destroyed my body & mind to the point where I had to stop working, file for bankruptcy, my husband & I lost our first house & both of our vehicles & I have accrued a very large amount of medical debt. Because I was always a social butterfly, the “life of the party” so to speak, my friends weren’t used to me having to say no to invitations, to events, meetups or social gatherings. As I slowly slid down the chronic pain & illness slope, the less & less I was invited to anything. At first I was very hurt, angry & resentful as I had always gone to every little thing I was ever invited to, & now it felt like everyone had forgotten me. As I’ve matured & found others through Lyme, chronic pain & chronic illness support groups, I’ve learned that I’m not alone in experiencing the pain of losing people. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that not everyone is supposed to go with me on this journey into my uncertain future. And even though I’ve lost people, my faith has grown immensely & I’m always amazed how the Lord blesses me, even though I struggle with very poor health. He’s shown me time & time again that it’s ok to put myself & my health first, to stop people pleasing & to cherish the few friends & family that do still invite me. I remember how Jesus was rejected, manipulated & deceived by those who were close to him, but he always kept offering love, compassion & forgiveness to those who hurt him anyway. It’s not easy, it takes me time, prayers & patience to try & understand people. I’ve come to find that quality over quantity stands true in much of life, including friendships.
Yes, Karina, I am in that boat with you! I reach out often, trying to make connections, but few come to fruition. I do very much appreciate the few invitations I receive. And try not to be slighted by all those that don’t happen. I keep sending out those “feelers” and try not to get my hopes up. I know God loves me and I try to bless others every day. That’s all I can do.
I feel you. In so many of these words. I’m so glad you shared encouragement to follow Jesus, I needed that. I need to be reminded that I can relinquish all my angst at the foot of the cross and receive grace enough to cover it all. Even if it’s mounting up. His grace soothes and gives me peace.
Praise God for His unending grace that is enough to cover our sins and help soothe us to be able to overflow with grace.
Thanks for sharing your overflowing grace!
Good advice that my earthly Father would tell me when I had to go to school and was nervous about it — you go and find someone who is more scared than you and be friendly to them…actually it is good advice when you are way past school age too…just keep reaching out don’t give up…God will help…He always does…
I love this! Thank you for sharing. I can relate and it’s nice to not feel alone and gain perspective.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Karina I can feel where you are coming from. I don’t have that many friends. In fact only one in the county where I live. The two sisters I have as friends live 86 miles away from me that used to live in the same county as me. I hardly ever get to the one friend I have that lives in the same county as me. I did try to make friends with another person that is friends with one of my friends that are two sisters that live 86 miles away from me she didn’t want to know. I don’t know why. I don’t know why no one else wants to be my friend. I tried making friends with people. They just don’t want to know. People have told me. In my church and that know me to see through my sister’s and their friends and my family and my Dad. I am the most kind loving caring person that that know. They all wonder why no one else wants to be my friend. I have cried about it in the past. But now I taken it to Jesus and left it at the foot of cross. It no longer annoys me. I been left out from being asked to things. I would be my Husband would say to me to kind for my own good. I buy that person a cup of coffee and scone. Not to have them be my friend. Just out of love and kindness. If I see them. I say let’s go if shop had a coffee shop in it. Here for a cup of coffee even if they did ask me. I say I pay. Just out of kindness. They say let me. Then what get to my Husband is if someone just because they no one else to go for coffee with would ask me. If they had someone else they not bother asking me. Then they say I have a coffee and scone. They go sit down I end up paying they not even offer when it was their idea to meet up go for coffee. My Husband believes if it their idea they should pay. I say nothing I just glad to be included and asked. As everything else I left out. Same with most things to do with my family unless it my Birthday or my Dad’s. I feel it is there something wrong with me that no one like me. Or wants to be my friend when I try to be friends with them. Jesus said to me you are beautiful and special in my eyes and my precious Daughter. It there loss they don’t want to be your friend. I will alway be your friend. I will never leave you not forsake you. I will never use you. Just love you Dawn for who you are. Just pray for them and that is what I do. Thank you for today’s reading love it. Love you all incourage keep you all in prayer Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
Thank you for your candid sharing. I can resonate with the feeling of being left out of parties, and other celebrations. I have fully surrendered my hurt feelings to the LORD.
I have learned to lean on the LORD who provides me with all that I need. HE is indeed the Source of my life. I am at a place
where I can rejoice, and serve the LORD wholeheartedly.
In reality, I have many acquaintances but very few friends. We are like minded in our faith and love sharing about our journey with the LORD. We will find fulfilment in the LORD who is faithful, good, gracious and loving. Let us remain steadfast in the LORD and encourage one another as we live out our lives for HIM.
BC from BC says
I hear your heart Dawn. I have felt the same. I will be your friend. Know that God loves you and me and we can walk this journey of life together. May God Bless you today and walk with you. 🙂
Fringe friend – now I have a term for who I feel I am to many of my friends. Thank you for writing this and being so authentic. I know now that what I feel is real and I am not just expecting too much or conjuring up things in my head. It is a struggle to not go into cynical and withdrawal mode. I choose to lean in instead to Jesus and be a good friend even though I may be the one who is a friend only when needed.
I have struggled with this my whole life, but when I turned 50 and rededicated my life to Jesus, I was able to overcome the majority of these feelings. There was something so liberating about turning half a decade and also becoming closer to God. He has filled many voids that nothing else ever filled. Thank you for this article, in our brokenness we often feel as if we’re the only ones going through a tough situation but it is comforting ti know we are not. God bless you!
Thank you so much for this. It’s my story too. It’s strengthening to know I’m not the only one who feels this way and to be reminded that I have a friend in Jesus and that I can and should continue to try to be a friend. God bless you in your journey. Please pray for me in mine.
Beth Williams says
Making friends can be hard. Oh there are people you meet who can be friendly, but that’s not the same. It’s hard to find people with the same interests & likes as you. My biggest problem now is I work 7:30 am 6:00 pm 4 days a week so not much time for interaction. For me I make it intentional to call, email or text a few good friends & check on them. Letting them know I care. Friendships take work. Sometimes we have to be the first ones to go. Take that leap of faith & say hello. I’m the “newbie” at church. We have a time of fellowship & most everyone comes over, shakes hands & says hi. I get involved with their activities as much as time allows. I also volunteer with Loaves & Fishes food bank-that allows me more friendships. They are simply people I know & pray for. To be honest I don’t really have any true friends. My life is busy & my schedule is weird. But that’s alright. God will provide friends when needed.
Prayers for everyone needed good friendships. Abba Father You alone know the hearts of women. So many of us don’t have great friendships. Health issues, work schedules, life stages, etc. separate us. Please send friends our way. Ones that we can talk to & do things with. Take away the lonely uninvited feelings away. AMEN
Maryalisabeth Huffman says
OMG!! You are telling my story 🙁 I also am a “Fringe Friend”. I always feel like I do everything for everyone and do not feel it is reciprocated. I tell myself that “Unconditional love expects nothing in return”, this does not make me feel better. I remember when my ‘ride or die’ got a tattoo, it was with her two best friends who all got matching tattoos. I hate tattoos! I do not have one and will not. that does not make it sting any less.
I think what I miss the most is a ‘partner in crime’. I worked for my church for 22 years and always had a partner. At the beginning of Covid when people were afraid to go to church I was let go.
I wrestle with this more than I care to admit. I feel so alone because of this. I live in a house of six people and love the Lord, I am never alone!! Totally feel alone.
Carol Brown says
Your sharing is so poignant and makes me sad. At my Church we had a class on Hospitality– how important it is to spend the first 3 minutes greeting and sharing with people who are new or alone. Yet frequently I see people alone at our Coffee Hour. May God’s love surround those who are lonely.
In the last year, I have not been invited to my niece’s graduation and my other niece’s wedding. I had to cancel going to a December graduation because of my mother’s death, and received a last minute invite to my niece’s recent graduation. I am hurt and struggling with these relationships. I am grateful for this post as I work through this with the Lord’s help.
Mary Jane Mason says
Honey, make your own friend events. Invite two or three ladies over. Then invite a few differently gals out for a coffee chat. Find a few others for a shopping lunch meet up. Invite them all over for potluck and maybe games. I can assure you there are plenty of gals that feel as left out as you do. You be that one that fills the gap. There are probably ladies that would enjoy getting together for an afternoon writing group once a month. Be the “instigator.”