What Being Left Out Taught Me About Valuing People

Girl Alone in Corner

Have you ever had a time where you felt left out?

Maybe you were the only one not invited to a friend’s party. Maybe you didn’t make a sports team or audition, but your friends all did.

Let’s face it, rejection hurts. It’s not fun to be left out.

I’ve had so many times growing up where I was the only one. Believe it or not, my worst “left-out” experiences have been at church.

Ever since I was little, I’ve been the only one my age at church who actually came on a regular basis.

When I was 3, I was in a Sunday School class by myself. My teacher, Miss Sue, was the sweetest lady. She even made a blanket and pillow for my Sheepie, so that we would both be comfortable in her class. In Miss Sue’s class, I felt welcomed. I knew I was the only one and I kind of wanted others to come, but I liked the individual attention.

Fast-forward ten years, and my family switched churches. That was one of the most difficult times of my life. As someone who dreads change, this was a major transition.

At this new church, I was still the only one my age. The majority of the kids there were either two years older or two years younger.

For a while, I was lumped into class with the younger kids, but finally, kids my age started coming. We had a 7th-9th grade class and there were five of us in there on a good day.

Well, after a while, the other four drifted away. And week after week, month after month, I was the only one.

Now, being the only one didn’t bother me as much as the way this new teacher handled it.

She constantly made comments like “Nobody’s here” or “Why doesn’t anyone come to class?” right to my face. Every single class, she complained about who wasn’t there. I was the “nobody” that came.

It was like I didn’t exist.

There was never appreciation for the fact that I came faithfully. Just constant grumbling about how no one ever came. Even to this day, she acts like she did nothing wrong. She never realized how much she hurt me.

Talk about a slap in the face!

So for the longest time, I tried to make excuses so I could avoid going to church. I felt “sick” almost every week and tried to convince my church-faithful parents that we should skip Sunday School. Let’s just say, that didn’t happen.

After a few years, I was old enough to move to another class and new people around my age joined the church. Although no place is absolutely perfect, church became a lot better after leaving that negative class.

But this whole experience taught me a valuable life lesson: Every single person matters and wants to feel valued.

Even in youth group, the leaders would spend a whole night focused on how many people weren’t there and how we were failing to bring friends to church!

Yes, I think it’s important to invite friends. But, I think leaders should be appreciative of every single person who comes.

I’m sure it’s frustrating to put in a lot of effort and very few people show up. It probably makes the leaders feel like their time is being wasted.

But I don’t think it should. God’s message matters the same whether one person hears it or one million do.

In this day and age, I think we’re all focused on numbers. How many likes we get on Instagram, how many YouTube subscribers we have, how many people read our blog posts. I’m guilty of this too.

Trying to get a bigger following isn’t entirely wrong, but I do think we should be grateful for everyone who has been faithful and is choosing to view our content/ come to our class. Successful companies know the value of rewarding faithful employees and customers. If people aren’t being treated kindly, why would anyone else bother coming?

Since I know what it feels like to be treated like you don’t exist, I want to make sure that I go out of my way to make people feel welcome.

I hope to teach Sunday School one day and I eagerly await the day I have one student. I want to pour as much energy and passion into that beautiful soul as I would into a room of 100.

To God, we all matter. Not just collectively as human beings, but as individuals.

He even knows the number of hairs on our head! (Matthew 10:30). 

I absolutely love Psalm 139. If you ever feel left out or like no one cares, this is the chapter for you. You are so loved and valued by God!

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!”
~ Psalm 139:13-17 (NLT)

In all honesty, I don’t always do a good job of making people feel welcome. I get shy, I get comfortable, I fail. But I’m striving to love people like God loves them more and more.

So if you’re feeling left out or like you’re the only one, I want to encourage you that you matter SO MUCH. No matter what hurtful things people have said or done. You are so valuable and wonderful.

And sometimes God uses the most painful times we’ve had so that we can encourage others who’ve dealt with similar struggles.

Investing in the Primary Mission of the Church

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 19-20, NIV)

All my life this passage has been thrown at my face. This very section is what we call The Primary Mission of the Church. Sunday School has taught me that I need to spread the Good News: that while we were still sinners, Jesus Christ died for us, paying our debts, washing away our sins, and we may be born again in the spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:8, John 3:16, Ephesians 2:4-10, 2 Corinthians 4:16,..the list can go on). The problem with this lesson was that I wasn’t really taught how. I am not saying that my Sunday School teachers didn’t teach me well, they are actually people that I look up to spiritually. The true problem is that we allow fear to come inside and we hesitate and draw a blank when it comes to speaking to anyone who doesn’t know the Lord. How do we take on this task? What do we say? How will they respond?

This has been on my heart for a long time now. There is someone that I deeply care about who doesn’t know the Lord and I regret each time I see this person because I am afraid to speak my mind. I am afraid that this will affect our relationship not in a good way and that they will respond in disgust. I shouldn’t let Satan tempt me with fear, for that is not the way we should respond to what God calls us to do. I have prayed about this time and time again and I know now that I need to stop dancing around this and face it straight on.

“Therefore my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58, NIV)

A good example of being a witness of what Jesus has done in us and for us is none other than the book of Philemon. You’re probably thinking, ‘Philemon? You mean the smallest book in the Bible? What does that have to do with your point?’ Trust me, we will get to the point I am trying to make.

First off, let me give you a little background on the story of Philemon. Philemon is a man of strong faith and is a well respected Christian leader, according to the apostle Paul. Philemon was also a master of a slave named Onesimus. Slavery was widespread in the Roman world at this time. If a runaway slave was captured, they had to be returned and given severe punishment as an example to other slaves. At this time, apostle Paul is writing this letter under house arrest in Rome being always monitored, but he was allowed visitors. Well, Onesimus ran away from Philemon, possibly stole a few items, and stumbled upon Paul. Paul has Onesimus return back to his master and writes this letter to Philemon encouraging him to not punish him and to instead welcome Onesimus as a beloved brother in Christ. Even though Paul needs Onesimus more than Philemon because the runaway slave has been helpful in spreading the Gospel, Paul’s desire of reconciling Philemon and Onesimus was more important to him.

One of Paul’s missions was to see people’s hearts changed by the gospel of Christ. And this letter to Philemon illustrates how attitudes and relationships are transformed in Christ. Notice also here in this letter in Philemon that Paul wanted the relationships between master and slave to be transcended to brother and brother in Christ. Regardless of economic class, societal reputation, race, ethnicity, or gender, we must show Christ’s gracious love to EVERYONE. So, what are the themes in this letter? Forgiveness: Philemon forgiving Onesimus for running away (Colossians 3:11, 13-14), Transformation: Onesimus was born again with the help of Paul (2 Corinthians 5:17), and Sacrifice: Paul giving up Onesimus’s help and also mentioning paying any debts of Onesimus’s former wrongdoings.

I see Paul’s letter to Philemon as an analogy to reveal how far God will go to set any captive in the slavery of sin free. Paul’s investment in Onesimus encouraged and strengthened Onesimus’s faith in Jesus Christ. If we put that much investment like Paul did in someone’s life to open their eyes to the grace of God, imagine the results of changed lives. Think of something valuable to you that you put a lot of time. Now imagine putting that time in fellowship, in the lives of people who don’t know Jesus.

My grandfather is a man of extreme faith. The wisest and strongest man I know. He truly is a man of prayer and dedication to Jesus Christ. He walks up and down the streets with a life-size cross and a crown of thorns, spreading the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness for us, changing the lives of everyone around him. Because of his great love for God, the Holy Spirit works in his life for good works (Ephesians 2:10).

I will not be giving you an exact answer to how you should spread the news to Jesus Christ. But I will say this: take baby steps. Don’t jump to it right away and scare people away, put time and effort into these new relationships. But make sure they know right away that you are a Christian. When you share and summarize the Gospel, I encourage you to use these keywords I learned from the Bible and Gospel class: Need, Grace, Sacrifice, Union, Transfer, Restoration.

I now challenge you to read Philemon all the way through. Don’t worry, it will only take you a minute to read it. But I also want you to highlight anything that Paul says or does that remind you acts of Christ. Think about the meaning of this letter and how you should be a light and an example to others. Think about the steps you are going to take when spreading the love of Christ to others. I leave you with this:

“People pay attention when they see that God actually changes persons and sets them free. When a new Christian stands up and tells how God has revolutionized his or her life, no one dozes off. When someone is healed or released from a life-controlling bondage, everyone takes notice.” – Jim Cymbala

“His voice leads us not into timid discipleship but into bold witness.” – Charles Stanley

This Powerful thing called Prayer

I wanted to share a piece of my life so that maybe one of you would be encouraged by the message I want to share with you today.

Recently, I have been drowned in my own pain. I have been finding it difficult to get out of bed, to go through the motions, go to class, and to do focus on my studies. I struggle with dealing with my sadness and depression. It is all that I think about now. My thoughts are overwhelming, as if they are screaming at me. I feel that I am losing hope. Anyone else feel like that, or is it just me?

This weekend, I cried, swallowed up in my sadness, feeling completely and utterly alone. I knew in my mind that the only comfort that I need is God himself. I did not know how to speak to God for I didn’t feel his prescence in my pain, but I know He could hear my thoughts and my silent cry for help.

I prayed asking, “How much longer Lord? How much longer will I feel this way? Am I truly alone in this journey I’m facing?”. As I kept praying for answers, I heard the Holy Spirit respond, “Don’t forget Who Your Father is”. I immediately fell in awe and moved by God’s love

Our sinful nature make us forget some things. We live in a negative world here on earth, so we tend to let the world control our attitudes and affect our perspective see each day. The world tells us what to think, how to act, and what to choose. This is Satan tempting you and telling you to forget the many many promises God has made for all of us. Let us not forget that each day we wake up, we are alive, we are breathing, and God has provided for us! Isn’t that amazing?! Praise God for letting us live anew because of His gracious love.

God is working in us. All of our skills, abilities, strengths, and achievements are not our own gifts, but gifts and blessings that were given to us from God Himself. He gives us these gifts so that we may use them in the glory of His name.

If you are having a bad day today, I want you to stop and think about five things you are thankful for today. Even if you are having a good day, this is a good exercise for you too. If you can’t think of five, just find at least one thing that you are thankful. Write them down and pray to God how thankful you are for those things. I challenge you to continue to do this so that maybe, just maybe, our heart will grow farther away from our sin but closer to the joy in Christ Jesus that we strive for. I understand that there are days where we struggle in our misery and in deep anguish. But, our pain is being used for good. There is meaning in our misery. God is with us in every step of suffering- remember that. For God knows what we don’t know and God sees what we don’t see. If we commit our faith to God when we suffer, not only will we overcome it, we will also grow from it and we will learn from it for God gives us purpose to our struggles. We may not know the purpose while we are in our struggles, but all that matters is that God will provide.

Therefore: “Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

And if you aren’t sure what to pray, here is an acronym that can help:

PraiseThank God for the blessings He has given you.

Repent. Ask for forgiveness of your sins and ask for him to take away any darkness that is in your heart.

Ask. Ask for His help in anything in your life that you may be struggling with right now.

Yield. Surrender yourself to God. Allow yourself to be led by the will of God.

If this doesn’t help you, don’t forget about this prayer:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:9-13).

I pray that you may also keep praying even when it gets hard. God can still hear our cries even when we struggle getting the words out. GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS. It may not seem like it from time to time but He is answering our prayers. They may not seem like immediate responses or solutions, but He does answer them in His own time. This is where we should continue to trust in His will for us.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him,and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).