I started this blog a while back and didn’t publish it because--well, it was a little too raw and a little too close to home at the time. But I just returned last week from E3 by CenterPeace, a conference aimed at equipping Christians with tools for talking about LGBTQ+ issues in a more Christlike way, and I am now a little more comfortable and a little more enlightened about what was at the heart of what I originally wrote in this blog. So, here, (on what is, interestingly, National Coming Out Day and International Day of the Girl) is my updated blog on feeling uninvited:
I'm sitting here today, sad and a little mad, because of the invitation I did not receive. One I should have received a long time ago. One I have even asked for, more than once. But, once again, I'm not invited. The meeting is taking place just down the hall from where I sit and I'm feeling defeated and lonely and rejected, once again.
Maybe you have felt that way too. Maybe you've been overlooked, left out, excluded. Maybe people have forgotten to invite you. Or, worse, maybe people have considered inviting you and decided, "Nah, don't need her (or him)."
If you are feeling this way, today, while reading this, I am sorry. I will sit with you for a moment in the sadness and aloneness and pain. It hurts to be left out. It hurts to be forgotten and overlooked and dismissed. It hurts even worse to be looked at as less-than, not-good-enough, unfit.
This kind of pain is universal. I mean, think about how many books, movies, TV shows and songs speak to the subject of being excluded. Mean Girls (2004), the ultimate teen movie about exclusion, has been a staple in our family for years ("That's so fetch!" anyone?). One plot point in the movie concerns a "burn book" that circulates throughout a suburban high school, shaming and ostracizing nearly every girl in the school. Ms. Norbury, the guidance counselor (played by the amazingly talented Tina Fey, who also wrote the screenplay) calls all the girls to an assembly where she tells them, "Ok, so we're all here 'cause of this book, right? Well, I don't know who wrote this book, but you all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it ok for guys to call you sluts and whores."
The girl-power part of me has always loved that line, but after my recent experience at E3, and after spending time with some lovely LGBTQ+ friends and allies, I realize something: That movie quote I love, and the scene it is in, also speak to a common practice of Christians. Often, we as Christians do and say cruel and exclusionary things to those we don't know and understand (let that sink in)...all while feeling (overly?) sensitive when someone points out things they don't understand about us.
I get a little giggly (and a lot guilty) when I picture Jesus calling us all to an assembly and saying, "Ok, so we are all here because of My book. Well, I don't know who keeps misreading it, but you all have got to stop calling each other shameful sinners. That just makes it ok for the whole world to call you shameful sinners."
So, here's to a new way of acting when I start feeling the pinch of exclusion: I, for one, am going to remember first and foremost, that (even though He didn't have to!) Jesus has invited me into the biggest, baddest, most beautiful eternity of a party/family/meeting/assembly. I am created and beloved and chosen for inclusion, just like I am. Just like you are.
And, guess what? So. Is. Everyone. Else. (No burn books allowed here!).
I'm going to recommit myself to letting that knowledge sink deep into my heart and soul and mind and every last inch of my hurt and angry self. Then, I'm going to worry less about the folks who exclude me and focus more on others around me who also feel uninvited. That way, we can remind each other that Jesus already gave us the ultimate invitation. All we gotta do is accept, show up and party on. Wanna join me?
(Note: If you happen to be the person, today, who is feeling shame or exclusion, I am here. I've got a comfy couch, a cup of tea--or coffee, or several other beverages!--and a lifetime of experience in feeling the way you do. So, shoot me a message and come on over. You are always invited.)