We’re just wrapping up the holidays…‘twas the season for spinning from hall decking to festivities to shopping trips, and stilling to re-revel, rejoicing in the birth of our King. Yet despite all the merriment, ’twas the season, for many, to feel unincluded. The reality is, celebrations abound this time of year, but not always invitations. Sometimes an intentional disinvite, sometimes a careless oversight, but always, the sting is the same: left out; rejected; alone.
I’ve known the lonely ache of unincluded…haven’t we all? It’s an inevitability in life, but it can cut us to the core–leaving us feeling small and insignificant; not enough. Being “a part” feels so whole, so right. And being “apart” feels so not.
I experienced it on the playground as a girl, oftentimes the third of a trio; the alternate best friend when one of the others was absent. My place was third but it felt more like tagalong–the one left outside, unwanted, clutching a stinging unvitation from the inner circle.
In college I watched from the warm inside this time, a card-carrying member of my sorority, as friends on the outside endured the cut. I watched them bleed. And I hurt like it was I on the outs again.
As an adult I still receive unvitations. And it smarts just like when I was younger, making me feel singularly forgettable. We’re all vulnerable little girls at heart when rejection’s wrecking ball comes at us…
Just recently, my sensitive soul threatened to wither into worthless, the recipient of several unvitations in a row. God used the hurt to gather me into His embrace, and the space where I’d have otherwise attended, to whisper much-needed reminders of who He’d made me to be, and Whose. One of those whispers came in the form of a Facebook quote by author/speaker Lysa TerKeurst, that reverberated in my soul for weeks thereafter:
“There is something wonderfully sacred that happens when a girl chooses to look past being set aside to see God’s call for her to be set apart.” -Lysa TerKeurst
I’m learning there’s marked beauty in set apart. Opportunity in unincluded.
“Set apart” is a commonly used phrase in Scripture, and in the Greek means “to distinguish, to charge expressly.” (bibleapps.com) Among those so distinguished by this phraseology in the Word are Aaron, Joseph, Barnabas, Saul and Paul. I don’t know about you, but I’m honored to join their ranks…the thought of being set apart for anything by the God of the Universe is mind-boggling. And let us not forget, lest we puff up, it’s God Who does the setting—after all, “apart” from Him, we can do nothing. (John 15:5)
The Lord’s teaching me that sometimes He allows me to be overlooked for events, assignments or committees, in order to divert my eyes from that which I’m lusting after; idolizing, and to invite me into what He does have for me in this season. That which will utilize my Divinely-hardwired giftings. That I wouldn’t have the margin for, were I dizzily attending, serving, and busy-ing in all the directions my eyes are drawn.
That goes for YOU too, sweet sister—He’s made us all for something.
In that spirit, here are a few things to remember when you feel unincluded, from my chosen heart to yours:
This is not our home.
We can feel like foreigners in this place of pain—simply because we do not belong here. If you’ve received your Maker’s offer to occupy you, heart and soul, you belong somewhere suffering isn’t a thing, with Someone Who bought you with His blood. Where every believer is welcome, not one cast aside…remembering Heaven awaits us on the other side of this existence can be tremendously encouraging in the face of rejection. As Steven Curtis Chapman puts it in song: “We are not home yet.”
We’re all Rahabs at heart.
As I re-read the story of Rahab during the Christmas season (Joshua 2), it struck me how worthless, undervalued, and unappreciated she must have felt given her profession (woman of the night) and subsequent lack of social stature. Yet this brave woman, surely regarded by many in her day as trash, was set aside to partner with the Most High in rescuing the spies, and ultimately, to perpetuate the bloodline of Christ–a player in the greatest love story ever written.
Like the scarlet cord anchored to her window that became her saving grace, Rahab’s identity was firmly anchored to her God…despite her lack of dignity; despite her lack of inclusion. We’re just like our sister Rahab…our sin made us unlovely, scandalously rejectable. But we’re washed…clean. Without blemish. We may experience rejection but we have the God of the Universe’s direct line. In Him, we’re legit–included. Made new. And set apart.
We have a High Priest Who gets us.
Let this sink deep: your JESUS got an unvitation before he’d even made His entrance onto this world’s sinister scene—at His birth, there was no room for Him. Later as He ministered, stony hearts continued to crowd Him out, and still do today. He was rejected. Ostracized. Ultimately murdered for loving lavishly. Your Great Physician feels your pain and bottles your tears, sweet sister, binding up your wounds with the bandages of chosen and worthy; the salve of set apart.
In the face of unincluded, we can miss all the ways we are included…both by our nearest and dearest, but most importantly, by the One who really counts:
“You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off; fear not, for I am with you…” Isaiah 41:9-10 (ESV)
Feelings…they’re liars, aren’t they? Uninvited, unwanted–they’re untrue. We must call out the untruth for what it is—stamp it in red: LIE, and toss it in the trash where it belongs. And move forward, unfettered, into the lovely space we’ve garnered. Space for something Divine. For breathing in our God-given identity, which is anything but unincluded.
Girls, let’s choose to look at unvitations not as rejections, but Divine redirections; by the One who extends the most illustrious invitation—FOREVER life with Him.