Sometimes my daughters will talk to me about feeling left out. Sometimes these feelings reflect truth (someone actually excludes them), or sometimes these feelings are lies. Either way, my husband and I have been helping them through these common experiences in adolescence that, unfortunately, don’t go away in adulthood. All day, I’ve been reviewing some of the lessons I learned in my 40 years:
1. We are part of a community–knit together in Christ–so feeling left out sometimes isn’t the truth of our experience, just an emotion that doesn’t reflect reality.
2. Feeling left out means we’re focusing much on ourselves and not looking outward to bless others. Instead of asking, “Who is excluding me?” we can turn it around to say, “Whom can I include?” or “Whom can I bless?” In this way, feelings of exclusion and loneliness often fade away.
3. Friendship doesn’t satisfy the deepest need of the soul; it’s belonging to, being known by, and relating to God. With this primary relationship in place, we can relate to others in pure love and not from a need to belong or be noticed.
4. The feelings of rejection, loneliness, or feeling left out draw us deeper into a relationship with God who alone satisfies.
5. God, in His providence, sovereignty, faithfulness, and love, can provide rich and meaningful friendships. We can ask Him to do so.
6. The aim of friendship isn’t to provide security; perhaps it’s to enjoy life and work towards a common goal together. If I’m looking to friendship to provide security, it quickly becomes an idol.
7. We can choose to believe we are loved and worthwhile even when we are not surrounded by people and receiving attention.
8. The fear of rejection and loneliness is real and common. Everyone experiences this, and you are not alone. Over time, you will create a whole network of people who love and care for you and whom you love and care for in return. It takes time.
9. Becoming friends with yourself will serve you for a lifetime.
10. What would you add to this list?