When I was in grade 7 a popular girl in my grade decided to have a party. She invited nearly the whole grade except for a small handful of kids. I was in that group of kids not invited.
I remember as our class sat at our individually named desks one Monday morning and opened the lid of our desk to find an invitation to this girl’s end of year school party. Most of my class had an invitation they dangled in the air, like a prize they had won.
I remember the burning in my cheeks and the embarrassment and shame of not being invited to a party that most of the grade had been invited to. I knew I wasn’t popular, but not being invited to that party just drove the message home even more.
It wasn’t the first time I missed out on something.
When I was five I was in a small musical with a dozen or more other primary school kids of varying ages at our local church. We had ‘toured’ other local churches and performed our little musical for them and I was often giggled at because I could never clap in time with the music when we had to clap in certain songs.
On the night of our final performance, we got a standing ovation at our church. The church was PACKED to see the show. When our final song was sung, the presenter told us kids to remain standing on stage and each of us would be given a prize of appreciation for our hard work.
So there we stood and everyone’s name was called out. Each individual received their prize until the presenter started his closing speech without realizing that I was standing all alone on the stage waiting for my name to be called out to receive my prize.
There was no prize with my name on it.
That was the first time I felt the burning sensation fill my cheeks and at five I didn’t know how to react. The presenter fumbled and mumbled on about whether they had a spare prize to give me.
All I remember was looking at my mum and flying off the stage running into her arms and she carried me away to the back of the church. At the time it was really humiliating for me to be left out and I thought it was because I was the youngest of the performers in the group and mustn’t have done a good job.
It was a great lesson to learn that people make errors and sometimes missing out is a disappointing part of life.
Christmas is such a beautiful time of year but for many, actually too many, they miss out on the cheer that comes with Christmas.
And I bet it breaks God’s heart because Christmas is the story about the birth of Jesus. The birth of a baby who grew into a man and died on a cross to set everyone free from sin.
I know that there are many online who don’t believe in God or believe in an unknown existence. My belief is based on faith and the bible and having amazing things happen in my life that can only be explained by God’s divine hand.
The thing is, sometimes the church is seen as pretty crap at inviting people in. If a church is too focused on their own growth in the faith, they can miss the important beat of God’s heart in saving and giving hope to the lost. The outside world isn’t attracted to a stagnant, inward seeking church. That’s not God’s design for what church is all about.
I can put my hand up and say that I can be so focused on me and my family that I’m too busy to give a thought to anyone beyond my inner circle. But I don’t want to be a Christian with their eyes focused in on their own realm. I want to be a Christian that sees the lost and the ones that are hurting and even the ones that are not and bless them with kindness and acceptance. I hated the feeling of missing out when I was younger and as a Christian I need to be more proactive in ensuring others aren’t missing out on a life that gives them hope.
Back to my year 7 party invite exclusion, I had a good friend who got invited to the party and played the invitation down. Instead of going to the party herself, she took me out to the movies and invited me to a sleep over at her place.
I didn’t miss out after all and I am so thankful by the kindness of that friend. I knew she wanted to go to the party but saw my hurt pride and put her own desires aside to spend time with a friend who missed out.
Who’s missing out inside your zone of influence in your life? What can you do to invite them into the fold and bless them with hope this Christmas? It’s time to find the missed outs and bless them out so that they can know what the true meaning of Christmas is all about.