I’d be away from home for several days.
I boarded a plane, traveled hundreds of miles to spend a weekend in what I hoped to be a reunion of sorts, at a conference with new friends. I anticipated deep, heartfelt conversations and growing friendship. With suitcase in hand, I nearly skipped through the airport. It was going to be a great trip.
Not so much. Instead a soul-filling, I spent three days watching my confidence drain. In a place filled with the sounds of relationship, I was invisible. Like a marble in a pinball game, I ricocheted from person to person, trying to find a place at their tables, squeeze into the conversation and relationship.
It didn’t work. The more I tried, the tighter they linked hands. I was caught in a painful game of Red Rover, me running full force, yet unable to break through prior bonds. While they held on to each other, I sat alone.
What’s wrong with me?
After a couple days, my self-esteem was in shreds. I called my husband, needing to hear someone say, “You have a place, Michele. Here, with me.” I returned to the airport, bruised, limping. My flight couldn’t depart fast enough; I was desperate for the shield of home.
Still, something changed as the plane took me closer to safety. Conviction replaced rejection. For days, I’d spent my best self trying to be seen and worthy, trying to hide my flaws and be good enough. Trying to establish my place.
And as I strained to find my seat at their tables, I ignored others looking for theirs.
Then I thought of Mephibosheth, a prince turned cripple, hiding in his home. You’d think being crippled would make it impossible to be invisible. The thing you want to hide is the very reason people can’t take their eyes off you. But flaws often blind us to the person.
Until Kind David started looking for the one he’d missed. Rather than having eyes for the glitzy and glamorous, he searched for someone lost needing to be found. When he found him, he did something about it:
Mephibosheth … shall always eat at my table. (2 Sam. 9:10)
The words of a king to the heart of a cripple. Just like that, Mephibosheth found his place. It was settled.
You and I, we want to be seen. So we work hard, show our best selves, hide our limp. Anxious to fit in, we move from one circle to another, always struggling and searching for an empty chair. But there’s a problem:
It’s the wrong chair.
The King already has a place with your name on it. And one with mine. He looked for the lost needing to be found. And when he found you and me, He said:
Eat at my table.
The words of a King to the heart of a cripple.
I’m tired of spending my best self to find a chair at a lesser table. I have a place, established and firm. So do you. We no longer need to struggle and strain to squeeze into certain relationships and circles. This isn’t where we’re supposed to pull up a chair anyway.
Instead, as we love and lead, let’s you and I settle into the one chair made for us. Established, once and for all. Only then will we have eyes for the invisible. In a world of Mephibosheths, I want my voice to be a David’s and my table filled with the lost. Crippled misfits called by a King. Including me.
If that’s you, pull up a chair. You have a place here. With me.
Now, pull out a chair for someone else.
Do you ever struggle to fit in?
It is comforting to know we have reserved seating with the King…but for me, it doesn’t seem to lessen the pain of rejection here at the earthly tables. Why or why are we so cruel to one another?
I hear you, Denise. Doesn’t lessen the pain of rejection. This perspective shift simply keeps me from being stalled by it. I know I’m not the only one feeling it, so I want to intentionally spend more time looking for others I can reach out to. Changes me from being a victim to being an extender of grace.
I can honestly say I know exactly how you felt. Going table to table trying to find a place…a little opening. Truth is, it’s exhausting. Love the idea to switch the uncomfortableness for good….grace will always win out.
Yes, exhausting. 🙂 Just knowing someone else feels the same helps. So thank you for that!
Michele, I teared up at this, and I don’t do that often. What a great example of the forlorn, last-one-left Mephibosheth. I’m definitely tweeting this and I am adding you to my blogroll. I get something out of your posts EVERY TIME. I’m planning to be at a particular writer’s conf. next year (I think it’s in Indianapolis in Sept?), and if you get to go, I’m going to drag you over to my table, okay?
Thank you, Heather. So kind of you! Writer’s conferences can be amazing … and painful. Remember who you are. You matter, regardless of what happens or doesn’t happen. And if we end up at the same conference together, it’d be my honor to sit at your table.
Oh. My. WORD!!!
I choked and sniffled at this!!
How did you get so inside my head???
Like Heather said, I’m tweeting this, FB’ing it and adding you to my blogroll.
Hahaha. Glad we’re in this craziness together. 🙂
I agree with Denise, and it seems to hurt worse when it’s people you know. I don’t mind as much if I’m in a new place with new people, but I often feel like the odd one out among people I consider to be my good friends. It’s comforting to know I always have a place with God, even though that doesn’t stop the hurt on earth.
Yes, it does. Wounds from a friend … Painful. I’m sorry for your hurt, Becky. Truly. The only way I’ve found to minimize the pain is to intentionally look for ways to reach out to someone else. Recently I learned that a generous act actually causes a chemical change in the brain, creating positive, warm-fuzzy feelings. That’s a pretty good alternative to pining away in my bedroom, which I have been known to do. 😉
I love it when Jesus reveals himself through experiences like yours…
Me too, Shelly. Eases the sting.
Loved, this Michele. I sent you an email. You are such a great example of love and humility. Your honesty enables many to embrace God’s love and grace. Hugs!
Tonya, I got your email. I LOVE it when you write me and share your heart. Thank you.
Love how God connects us with others who are on similar journeys!
this is powerful…
“Rather than having eyes for the glitzy and glamorous, he searched for someone lost needing to be found. When he found him, he did something about it”
I need to print and paste it somewhere!
Good idea. I should probably print and paste as well! I need the daily reminders, desperately.
I love this. I’ve been there. So very very thankful that I have a prime spot at the King’s table!! Thank you.
Me too, Eileen! Now, if I could just chain myself to that chair …
Great words, Michele. I too often forget about that story. I too often forget that I am more than the beneficiary of the King’s charity. He has made me his son. His heir. His prized possession.
I forget about it, too. But every time I read it, I’m stunned. It’s incredible.
Still blindly reaching out, trying to find the chair with my name on it.
Beautiful piece of writing!
Thank you, Cherry. Glad you pulled up a chair here.
One of the things that impressed me about Florence Littauer was her focus on being available to others, living in service to others and honouring the work/writings of others. Thanks for the reminder about the king’s table. When i see all that you have achieved and the support of family and friends I can hardly believe that happened to you. And yet It was a reminder of how vulnerable we all are to social acceptance and how much more so for those on their own who went home to an empty house or hostile family who resented the time away… And many will be blessed as you share what you learnt the hard way. Thank you.
I’ve yet to meet a person who doesn’t want to feel like they have a place, that their life matters. It’s something we all need reassurance of from time to time. Thanks, Grace.