The Father Himself loves you because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God. — John 16:27
The trip was to be a reunion of sorts, a gathering of peers from around the country to meet at a well-known conference. I’d planned the trip for months and counted down the days in sweet anticipation. Although some work would be involved, it was a girls’ weekend away, a much- needed investment in self-care. I dreamed of heartfelt conversations with old friends and exciting connections with new ones. Although I’d miss my family, I knew I needed this. For them and for me.
Ready, I boarded the plane, stashed my carry-on below the seat in front of me. With my chai latte in one hand and a new book in the other, I settled in for a soul-filling. I couldn’t wait.
One day into the conference, however, and I knew I’d been mis- taken. Instead of a soul-filling getaway, it was turning out to be a soul-sucking experience watching my confidence drain. In a place filled with the sounds of relationship, I was invisible. A dozen or more women whose names I knew and who knew my own laughed and cried and savored the gift of time shared. Only they did it with each other and without me.
Like a marble in a pinball game, I ricocheted from person to person, trying to find a place at their tables, attempting to squeeze into their conversations.
It didn’t work. The more I tried, the tighter they circled.
While they held on to each other, I sat alone.
What’s wrong with me? I wondered.
This was the question that plagued me day after day throughout the conference. These were beautiful women, full of faith and wisdom and life. I ached to be part of their life-giving circle, but there seemed to be no room in it for me. After a couple of days, my self-esteem was in shreds.
I called my husband, needing his reassurance.
“You have a place, Michele. Here, with me.” I relished his love. Still, the sting of rejection remained.
After the conference ended, I returned to the airport, bruised and disappointed. I counted down the minutes and seconds until departure, desperate for the shield of home. My flight couldn’t leave fast enough.
But something changed once the plane was in the air. Conviction replaced rejection. During the conference, I’d spent my best self in an effort to be seen and accepted, trying to hide my flaws and be good enough.
But as I strained to find my seat at old friends’ tables, I ignored countless others looking for a seat of their own.
Beyond the small group of women I tried to infiltrate, hundreds more gathered at the conference. Rather than see their faces and stories, I remained consumed by my own. In the end, I left frustrated that I was unable to build friendships with those I already knew, but convicted that I was also unwilling to spark a connection with those I didn’t.
Embarrassed, I suspected the latter was a far greater tragedy.
The desire to feel accepted isn’t unique to me. There’s a story in the Old Testament about a boy who, likewise, couldn’t find his place.
Although born a prince, the son of King David’s best friend, Jonathan, Mephibosheth endured a crippling accident that left him hiding in isolation. You’d think being physically disabled would make it impossible to be invisible. The thing you want most to hide is the very reason people can’t take their eyes off you. But often we can’t see the person behind their obvious flaws.
And so it was for Mephibosheth until King David started looking for the one he missed, the son of his friend Jonathan. Rather than having eyes only for the popular crowd, King David searched for someone lost who needed to be found. And when he found him, he did something about it:
Mephibosheth… will always eat at my table. — 2 Samuel 9:10
The words of a king to the heart of an outcast. Just like that, Mephibosheth found his place. It was settled.
We all want to be accepted by those we admire. So we work hard to show our best selves and hide our limp. Anxious to fit in, we move from one circle to another, trying to find our place and searching for an empty chair. But there’s a problem: it’s the wrong chair.
The King already has a place with your name on it.
And one with mine. He doesn’t have eyes for the popular. Instead, He looks for the lost needing to be found. And when He finds you and me, He says, You will always eat at My table.
I’m tired of spending my best self to find a chair at a lesser table. I have a place, established and firm. So do you. We no longer need to struggle and strain to squeeze into relationships. That isn’t where we’re supposed to pull up a chair anyway.
Instead, as we love and lead, we can settle into the one chair made especially for us. Secure, once and for all. Only then will we have eyes for the invisible. Let’s not let our insecurity blind us to opportunity.
If we allow ourselves to be consumed with our own needs, we’ll miss the many needs around us. And often, in the meeting of another’s need, we find our needs cured.
In a world of Mephibosheths, I want my voice to be David’s and my table filled with the lost. Crippled misfits called by a King. Accepted just as we are. Including both me and you.
There was only one sort of person whom the Lord Jesus did not accept when He said, “Come.” They are the ones who said to Him, “Yes, here I am, Jesus, and I’m very good and very virtuous.” … To them the Lord Jesus said, “Are you very virtuous? Then I am sorry, but I can’t help you.” —Corrie ten Boom, I Stand at the Door and Knock
Who Am I?
In this world of fickle friendship, it’s easy to forget that we have a permanent seat at God’s table. Too often we seek lesser chairs, looking for shallow approvals and satisfactions. In spite of the world’s promises, human acceptance will never be enough. First, contemplate your pursuit of lesser positions. Where are you nearly desperate for acceptance? Is it time to let it go? Second, consider those you may have overlooked in your pursuit of your place. Today ask God to give you insight and courage to take one step toward someone who needs to know they have a place at the King’s table.
Watch the I Am Video
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Let’s not let our insecurity blind us to opportunity. Isn’t that convicting in all the right ways? I can relate to seeking and feeling insecure about friendship without even seeing those around me who are in need of my friendship. What about you? Whose approval are you hoping to receive? Come share with us on our blog. We would love to hear from you about already having a seat reserved at the table of the King and inviting others to sit down with us! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full