As a little girl, I remember how excited I would get when I would receive a birthday party invitation in the mail. You know, those themed party invites that say in big bold letters “You are invited to…” followed by all of the party details. Even now, at the age of 25, I still LOVE receiving invitations. Now these invitations are less likely to be for a slumber party and more likely for a bridal shower, baby shower or wedding. But there is just something about seeing those words “You are invited.”
It feels good to be invited. Being invited tells you things like you are wanted, included, important, you belong. But oh how quickly those feelings can disappear when you see on Instagram that those girls went to brunch without you, those friends went to that concert without you and the list could go on. Suddenly you’re feeling uninvited, unwanted, and alone.
I remember calling my sister and telling her about this one time that I was making plans with a new group of friends to go to brunch. We were in a group text making the plans and going back and forth about dates when people were or were not available when all of a sudden everyone stopped responding and seemed to go on with their Friday night. The next morning, like most of us, I opened my Instagram app and saw pictures of these friends at brunch. Tears pricked my eyes and I started to wonder what was wrong with me. What had I done that made me go from being a part of the group trying to plan brunch to being uninvited? I struggled for several days and went back and forth from feeling hurt to angry. I started to tell myself that I was so alone and no one wanted to hang out with me – I know, I know, I was being very dramatic considering these were just a couple of girls that I had only recently begun a friendship with. But I had attached my identity into being a part of this new friend group. Being a part of this group made me feel special, valuable, and, well, cool. And when I was uninvited, it felt like all of those things were taken away.
But the truth was, I wasn’t all of those things because I was friends with these girls. I was all of those things – special, valuable, and, well, cool – because I am a child of God. I had to realign my identity to shake off the feeling of uninvited. Lysa Terkeurst writes in her book, Uninvited, “My identity must be anchored to the truth of who God is and who He is to me. Only then can I find a stability beyond what my feelings will ever allow. The closer I align my truth with His truth, the more closely I identify with God – and the more my identity really is in Him.”
Now don’t get me wrong, the feeling of being uninvited still creeps in because as humans we are wired for relationship and community. We desire to be together, to feel like we are a part of something, a part of the group. It’s why the thought of being uninvited hurts so much, but the hurt doesn’t last. I can shake it off because I don’t find my identity in those relationships or invitations. When I hear about that party or see the posts on social media and know that I wasn’t invited, instead of lingering on the fact that I wasn’t included, I remind myself that I am blessed. So many times that I realize I wasn’t invited to something, I think back on what I was doing during that particular event, and it’s usually one of two things: spending some time alone with God, learning and growing or spending some time with my closest friends that He has blessed me with. And that reminds me that yeah sure, I wasn’t invited but I had an opportunity to spend quality time becoming who God made me to be.
Lysa Terkeurst also writes in her book Uninvited, “It’s time to stop the lies and devastating hurt stemming from this kind of circumstantial identity. We must tie our identities to our unchanging, unflinching, unyielding, undeniably good, and unquestionably loving God.”
So warrior friend, let’s shake it off and anchor our identity in God alone, not whether we’re invited by those around us or not.