“Oh, Lord, don’t let THEM sit with us at our table!”
Don’t look shocked. You’ve thought the same thing, and more than once. Don’t think God doesn’t hear your unspoken complaint. And don’t think that after a few times of averted eyes and obvious body language, the THEY to whom you refer don’t receive it loud and clear.
You’re not wanted at our table. We don’t want to welcome you into our group. You’re not like us, see, because we’re US. We’ve been US for years, we always sit together, we always do things together. When one of us puts out a picture at this or that social setting on Facebook, you’ll usually see the rest of US there. That’s because WE are US. You’re not wanted in our circle, but we’re way too cool, and probably way more spiritual, to actually have to say it. You’re being shunned, silly rabbit. Get used to it. Because you’re just not part of US, and you never will be.
It gets easy, doesn’t it? Easy to draw together, to react like iron shavings to a magnet in any social setting. It takes no talent to reject another.
Simple. Just look for another US member, and join them. Soon there’ll be five or six, and it’s even better if they’re couples. US couples tend to automatically keep any singles who might be interested in being a part of their group at bay. Just turn toward one another, presenting your backs to anybody else, and TA-DA! DING-DING-DING! WARNING! DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! REJECT APPROACHING!
Who are you, and what made you think you’re wanted here?
It’s bad enough to put up with social near-misses by THEM couples sniffing around long-standing US groups. NObody needs the odd single person doing the same thing. Why, if we let that happen, it won’t be long before some of US find out those people aren’t so unlike US after all. They might even be worth getting to know . . . Nah.
I’m suggesting you learn to identify US groups, and make the effort to help open their self-absorbed eyes for the following reasons.
- No one is unworthy of your attention. There are a few individuals whose obnoxiosity makes them unpalatable to any group in any setting. But I’m guessing even they got that way because they got fed up with the artificial smiles and barely-tolerating spirits of US groups, just waiting for them to shove off. Sentient humans can tell when they’re constantly putting others off, and sometimes why. Maybe no one cared enough to unUS long enough to sit down with Mr. or Ms. Obnoxious and, without animus, speak the truth in love to them. Real friends do that. Real Christ-followers do that. Nope; not easy. Yet Jesus told us to love one another like that. It’s not optional. Know why?
- Everyone has a story. Yep. Even the aforementioned obnoxious, unsocialized ones. Every man or woman you’ve ever met has a piece of their story that can inform you about why they act and react as they do. That individual may never be a close friend to you. After all, we each have our own preference in friends, and some are bound to be closer than others. We have, however, no right to turn a cold shoulder to anyone unless they’ve somehow earned it. Even then, there’s something in their back story from which you can learn. At least you’ll be a friend to them, and not be turning your back and averting your eyes the moment they walk through the door. Why’s that important?
- You’ve been one of THOSE people at some time in your life. It may have been a long time ago. But very few have been instantly popular the day they were born. And for that odd few who were? It didn’t take long for everyone around them to see how shallow and self-serving they were and leave them alone. So, you see, one way or another, you’ve been one who can walk into a room unnoticed, sit down by yourself, and be your own best friend. You’ve known the slight frisson of excitement when someone approaches your table, only to say, “Do you mind if WE borrow a chair?” Strange, isn’t it? That ‘someone’ never seems to say, “Hey, why don’t you join us?” or better yet, holler over a shoulder, “Hey everyone. C’mere! There’s someone new here I want you to meet!”
People who’ve suffered rejection in their past are keenly aware of its fangs. Each new rejection brings old strikes, old poison memories flooding back. They may act disinterested and even aloof. They’re not. They’re scanning faces and voices into their internal database, and from that point on will be superficially, even professionally friendly. But they’ll never let those people get close enough to hurt them. And another possibly-terrific relationship goes up in smoke before it ever began.
I believe that’s one of those sources of heart-tears God promises to wipe away: promising friendships that died on the vine because US were more intent on maintaining social integrity than entertaining Christ’s command to love – even the unlovely.
© D. Dean Boone, March 2018