Everyday Grace

Searching for goodness in the ordinary

When You’re Feeling Left Out, Unloved, and Lacking

Jul
30

photo: Tobi Dami

The faces in the photo were overcome with joy, smiling big. Four girls leaning on each other, one in a wedding dress. A ton of Instagram hearts below solidified its status as a joyful memory and a lovely photo. But looking at it made me want to cry.

A little over a year ago, I traveled to Uganda with a group of total strangers. Though none of us knew each other before the trip, and we had nothing in common beyond saying “yes” to flying across the world to serve together, we all quickly bonded over our shared experiences in this new place and became fast friends. We worshipped together, cleaned up a library together, planted fields of grass together, ate together, and danced with girls rescued from trafficking together. We were a team, leaning on and learning from each other, and I flew home to Missouri with a deep hope that, though we were all from different states and places, we would somehow stay connected as friends.

I later learned that several of them had the same idea. A handful of times over the past year since we returned, I have seen photos pop up on social media of several folks from our trip getting together at conferences, events, or just because. It hurts to admit this, but I have never been invited to any of these get-togethers. The first few times, I tried to brush it off as coincidence and not take it personally. Later, I tried to reach out in a positive (not a whiny) way and say things like, “So fun that y’all were able to get together! Let me know for next time – I’d love to see you again!” Once, one of the other girls and I actually did make a plan to get together in her hometown, but she later cancelled on me. No big deal…things happen. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt.

I blinked down at this new photo that had just popped up on social media. It was a handful of the girls from the trip celebrating at one’s wedding. It appeared that they all took part in the wedding as her bridesmaids, while I wasn’t even invited at all. To be fair, I fully support her right to have whomever she wants at her wedding. I just didn’t understand why they were all included, and I was left out…again. I thought we were friends, too.

I wish I could say the biggest emotion I felt upon seeing this photo was pure happiness for my friend getting to marry her sweetheart. Instead, tears filled my eyes and my heart cracked open, prayers spilling over. It wasn’t the wedding, it was all of it. All the times I’d been left out by these girls over the past year bubbled up all at once, and all I could do was cry. Lord, I sobbed, I believe you have to be a friend to have a friend. I have prayed over these girls, texted with them in the middle of the night, encouraged them, tried my best. So it really stinking hurts to realize that I have been left out and left hanging these past several months. The only common denominator here seems to be…me. Did I do something wrong? Were we not as close as I thought? Have I not been a good friend to them? Did they just forget about me?  (more…)

No Happy Endings

May
28

photo: Lucas Allmann

When I was a little girl, I loved stories. My mom used to read to me all the time, and I learned to read at a pretty young age just by sitting with her and absorbing as she read to me. She read me a lot of stories from the Grimm brothers’ giant book of collected fairy tales, and the copy she had was so old and worn that it no longer had any covers. These stories didn’t always have happy endings, but the best ones did. The prince would show up, the princess would be rescued, the land would be healed, and all would be well. I don’t think the desire for a happy ending is limited to little kids. I think all of us secretly want and hope for a happy ending for ourselves, too – but if I’m being honest, I just don’t think happy endings exist. Let me explain. (more…)

You Can Sit With Us

May
14

A couple of years ago, I got into an intense theological fight with my closest friend. We are both Jesus girls with big bleeding hearts, and though we have a lot in common, we don’t share exactly the same passions and callings (which is perfectly okay!). We were discussing helping and serving others, but the conversation shifted when we started drawing lines between fellow believers and those outside the church. My friend mentioned that she thought it was more important to take care of other Christians than it was to take care of others outside the church, and that the church should be our priority. I totally disagreed with her, saying that those without Jesus to rely on needed our help more. I imagine Jesus looking in on our disagreement and facepalming. Here we were, arguing over how best to love others – instead of just doing it, just loving whomever was in reach as often as we could and in whatever ways we were able. We eventually realized that it’s okay for us to have different passions in this area – my calling might be to reach beyond the walls of the church to those who are suffering and introduce them to my friend Jesus, and my friend’s calling might be to build up the church from the inside so that we will have a healthy home to bring those hurting ones into. Both are needed, both are important. Neither is greater than the other. Both the believer and the unbeliever are precious to Jesus. He still leaves 99 to find the one, but the 99 are still just as important to Him. And as someone who has been both the 99 and the one, I am so grateful.

What if we can even take this a step further? In addition to acknowledging both needs as valid – reaching out to welcome people into Jesus, and making a welcoming place for them to come home to – what if we could blend these actions together? What if the church as a whole began intentionally and radically welcoming those who have historically felt pushed away or marginalized in our society? (more…)

Our Spirit // Unstuck

Apr
23

photo: Josh Willink

Once, in high school, I was babysitting for a brother/sister toddler duo and their mom had asked that I make the kids pancakes for lunch. Sounds great – except for one thing: I had never made pancakes. And this was not a Bisquick house, y’all – they were the type that had avocados and steel cut oats around the place before it was cool. No easy box mix with a recipe on the back in sight. To complicate matters, this was pre-iPhone, so I could not easily google a recipe and go on with my life. I began silently freaking out and thinking through my options. Okay, pancakes have…flour, right? As I gathered ingredients, I spied the best part of the situation – their mom had set out a CAST IRON skillet for me to use. Y’all. Let’s go over this recipe for disaster:

  1. Never made pancakes before
  2. Cast iron skillet
  3. No idea how to use one of those
  4. No recipe

All aboard the hot mess express. As I tried to figure out what should and should not go into pancakes, the kids of course were beginning to starve. I’m sure their parents had made them breakfast like three hours earlier, but to hear their version, you’d think they had not been fed for approximately 87 years. “In the Arms of the Angels” began to play in the background. I had to figure something out before these kids resorted to eating their plastic play fruit.  (more…)