I was forty-something. Plenty old enough to be beyond this, it seemed.
Praise music hovering, they gathered in clusters around a lively room, laughing and nodding between sips of coffee and bites of chocolate – familiar ears catching their words, safe hearts cushioning their sentiments.
I barely knew anyone, and the few who I did know(ish), they were busy filling their social cups with the people they actually knew. I felt small. Insignificant. Alone. No one wants to be that girl who stands on the periphery trying not to draw attention to the fact that she’s essentially the unknown, uninvited conversation-crasher.
Alone in a crowd, I silently wished I’d listened to the fear and stayed home that evening. We all want to feel like our hearts are met by others in authentic ways, not obligatory ways. And, oh how our hearts are wise to the difference.
With trusted, established circles and busy lives, grown-ups aren’t always seeking to invest in new relationships. It looks a whole lot like sacrifice to reach out when we feel overwhelmed and overextended with life as it is.
Always a people-person, I’m outgoing and social, but as I’ve aged, I don’t completely identify with the term “extrovert.” These days, I call myself a “Reserved Extrovert.”
Although never adverse to a mini-reunion with Sally and Suzy in the produce aisle, with age has come reservation…a reservation that I welcome. I’m not the one who’s going to comfortably invite herself into a conversation, or the one who’ll interrupt and speak over others in order to be heard.
Occasionally this can lead to the discovery of a superpower I never cared to possess—invisibility. I’d much prefer something more along the lines of Eats-Cupcakes-but-Doesn’t-Gain-an-Ounce. Now that’s a superpower I can get behind.
Sadly, I suspect I’m not the only one mired with this not-so-super power of invisibility.
Do you ever feel invisible? Left out? Less than? Not enough? Too much? Do you ever wonder why not you? Why you? Ever struggle with feeling misunderstood? Unknown?
Sister, so do I.
And so does she.
And so do they.
You’re not alone.
So often we feel as if everyone else has it all together, but what if they, too, secretly feel alone? Regardless of age or disposition, we all share this in common—every one of us longs to connect, to matter, to belong.
Next time you’re at a gathering, look around. Who is on the periphery? Who is desperately trying to hide behind the all-too-sheer air around her? Hint: she’s also the one who’s trying to appear to be fine.
Ask God for eyes to see the invisible one. Whether a “reserved extrovert”, a quiet introvert, or the social butterfly who’s secretly hoping she’s not too much—here’s the truth that trumps all differences—her bloodline is royal. Chosen at a high price, sung-over-by-the-breath-of-God-royalty. She needs to know that she’s a valued part of the family of God.
(And, bonus! You’ll already be fluent in the language of her heart when you’re sharing long walks on golden streets of eternity one day.)
She’s worth the step outside of the familiar. It’s not enough to wait for her to make the uncomfortable step toward us. We need to meet her where she is and bridge the ground between us.
It’s been a few years since that vulnerable night, but the memory serves as a springboard to take notice—to stretch out an open hand to the sister who longs to be known.
Let us not forget our place—we are not bigger than the greater mission. If it’s just about us, then it dies with us – and, well, Solomon had as fitting a word as I know for that. Meaningless.
Remind us, Lord…to get small, for deep at the heart of the small resides the great.
Once the distractions are shed into a barren heap on the floor, isn’t the thing we’re left with all that we really want anyway—to partner with Him in making a difference? By simply getting small? Amen?
We must decrease, He must increase. May that be the song of our hearts, the legacy of our lives.
A graceful word here, a hug there…what does it really cost us? But hold on to your bonnets—God’s abundance has such gracious borders. Oh, the breathtaking value this costless thing begets as it feeds starved hearts with the bread of belonging—multiplying and dividing well beyond us.