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.