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!