One by one, each person around the table looked at the guest of honor and told him what they most appreciated about him. Justin usually responded something like, “Yes, I am. Thanks.” He was beaming with delight. Like his mama, encouraging words are his language of love and tonight he was feeling much loved on his birthday.
But his life has also held other times when he was overlooked, viewed as less-than, or just plain uninvited.
Have you ever felt forgotten, excluded, or wondered about your own place in life?
My Lenten reading last week when we threw a birthday dinner for our eldest son, born with special challenges, and invited people who have poured into his life, included this blessing.
A Prayer for When You Don’t Belong
I always feel like the last one picked. The left out, the unclaimed… My gifts are not welcome. My tears are not seen. My pain is not registered. I feel invisible. Oh Jesus, when You walked among us, You became the one rejected. You were abandoned — even betrayed — by Your best friends, rejected by Your very own people. You became one with suffering itself, and as an outcast You opened the door for us to find a home with You, a community of outsiders.
You showed us exactly what You thought of such exclusion and rejection. You loved what the world devalued and demeaned: “the poor, the sick, foreigners, women, those deemed unclean, the imprisoned.” You flipped the “who’s in” and “who’s out” upside down. You radically broke every social and religious barrier — shattering them for all time. Your touch brought healing and restoration and hope to people who too felt like they didn’t belong. But You didn’t just bring them into the fold. You moved the center of Your kingdom there — with us, the left out. You tell us we belong and call us Your own.
So, blessed are we then who have been excluded, shunned, or forgotten, for there is One who knows us and loves us and walks among us. We know that we are not alone. Our God delights to be with us, and has moved heaven and earth just to be where we are. Blessed are we who belong here, with God, and who make space for others to sit with us, who practice radical belonging and hospitality because we know what it is like to be locked out. Amen.Kate Bowler “Good Enough”
As I lovingly prepared our home to welcome guests, I wept in setting a beautiful table, I wept in hanging 15 helium balloons (given by a friend.) I kept remembering the faithfulness of God in my son’s first forty-seven years. He has come so far and is such a ray of light, hope, and joy (and of course, a wee bit of frustration occasionally.) In all these years, Mike and I were empowered by God to never give up, and thus neither did he.
But it truly does take a village. So, to all you who have ever spent time with my son, or even just greeted him, I thank you. For seeing. For noticing. For reaching out. It doesn’t take much for us to bring someone in from the fringes. Perhaps even today.
May the grace of Christ, the love of God, and the friendship of the Holy Spirit bring you comfort and strength, Lucinda
“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”
©2022 Lucinda Secrest McDowell www.LucindaSecrestMcDowell.com
Lucinda Secrest McDowell is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while “Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” She has authored 15 books including “Soul Strong – 7 Keys to a Vibrant Life” and “Life-Giving Choices – 60 Days to What Matters Most.” She writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and shares encouraging words at LucindaSecrestMcDowell.com