The pain of being left out and the joy of being loved

Most of my life, I’ve struggled with feeling left out. Sometimes I was intentionally left out or excluded, sometimes I was just overlooked and sometimes I just perceived it that way. It’s happened a lot.

When you’re a quiet person, it’s easy to be overlooked. You’d think that would make me more talkative or strive to include myself in things. It works almost exactly the opposite. Once I start feeling the pinprick of being left out, I tend to shut down even more. It’s a vicious cycle that continues over and over.

As a kid, I was the youngest and quietest. My older brother was more vocal than I am (he still is!) and my older cousin, who we spent a lot of time with, was the same. The two of them were boys and closer in age than I was to them. They paired off many times while I flew solo. I didn’t always mind, but sometimes I did. I felt unheard many times, because it’s very easy for my voice to get lost in boisterous conversations.

It was outside of family that I struggled the most. Again, being quiet worked against me in being included. I also seemed to have a knack for picking friends who wouldn’t stay friends with me. There was the girl in fifth grade who told me in a catty tone about how she was having a Halloween party and inviting everyone in the class except me. (Later she was working at a retail store with which I had an issue and she had to treat me with respect and kindness. The adult me high-fived the fifth grade me over that!)

We will just skip over middle school because middle school stinks all around. I think that’s true for everyone! High school brought its own challenges. I had three really close friends turn their backs on me at different times throughout those four years of high school. It smarted a lot.

One of them went to my church and not only turned her back on me but took the rest of the youth group with her. That was hard. Fortunately, I was dating my husband by then and he was able to come to some of our youth group outings, which made them much easier. But it was difficult. I’m not a person who looks back fondly at memories of church youth group.

As an adult, I’ve continued to struggle with this feeling for all those same reasons yet again. I am almost 40 years old, and I STILL struggle. I’ve learned to talk about it with my husband; he’s a great gauge to see if I’m really being left out or if I’m just being oversensitive. I’m thankful to have him around to help me out, because I truly need it.

And all of this is why God embracing me means so very much to me. He never leaves me out. He is never snarky. He doesn’t get his friends to all stop talking to me. He doesn’t overlook me because I’m quiet. He doesn’t talk over me. He opens His arms, invites me in and holds me close as we chat.

I cannot think of anything greater than that. There are innumerable songs about this very thing, but lately I have been loving Hillsong’s “Who you say I am.” I love the following part in particular:

“In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
I am chosen
Not forsaken”

I cling to that promise on the days and times when I’m feeling out of sorts. My Father has a place for me. He hasn’t forgotten me or excluded me. He’s got a place for me in His house — both on earth and in heaven. And His house on earth doesn’t mean just the church. Like most Christians, I have been hurt by the church. I have been left out by the church at all ages of my life and different churches, because churches are filled with people. People aren’t perfect.

But, God is. I can fellowship with Him on earth any time I want. He is my friend when I feel friendless. He never leaves me out when I feel forgotten. I am chosen and have never been forsaken by Him. And neither have you!

Whether you’ve struggled with feeling left out your whole life like I have or whether you’ve struggled with something else, God loves you, has a place for you and calls you His child. He hasn’t forsaken you, no matter how far you’ve fallen or how hard life has smacked you. He is right there, holding on to you and longing to fellowship with you.

I’ve got to say that as someone who continues to fight this battle of feeling left out, there is no greater reassurance than knowing that my Heavenly Father always has a place for me. Always. Not just when it’s convenient. Not just when I remind Him. Not just when He happens to look my way and notice me. Always. Always! Praise God that He loves us so very much!

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