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Being ‘There You Are’ People

I’m a missionary kid, so I grew up traveling around the country with our family, presenting the ministry in France and raising financial support. There is one event Mom and my sisters and I were invited to that I will never forget. It was a mother-daughter tea at a church. We all got dressed in our finest and showed up not knowing anyone. Instead of seating us with other women and girls from the church they placed us at a table all by ourselves. I remember feeling so uncomfortable and wanting to cry. Mom looked like she would burst into tears, but instead just smiled at us and tried to make light of it. We felt like outsiders. Like we didn’t belong. Like no one wanted us.

 

Have you ever felt like that?

 

This fall I’ve noticed a trend in myself. It’s not a new trend, but I guess I’ve noticed it more and have been able to mull it over a little more.

 

When we have been invited somewhere I get excited for whatever the event is, and then I get a feeling in the pit of my stomach that feels a lot like fear. Butterflies, but not the good kind. I wonder: Who will be there? Will I know anyone? Will I feel weird? Will I dress right? Will people think I’m (fill in the blank with any number of insecurities.)

 

Often I try to protect myself. Who can I invite to make sure I have someone to talk to? What can I wear to boost my confidence? Let me make sure my makeup is just right so I feel put together. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. There are a surprising number of times in social settings when I feel totally out of place. I feel like everyone else has a friend or at least someone to talk to, and I’m on the fringes. I usually feel like leaving right about then. Or crying. Maybe you can relate.

 

Whether it’s a birthday party, a business gathering, a church function or a family get-together, I think there are a three different ways we can go into a situation.

 

Self Absorbed

Here I am! Look at me! I’m the big deal! We can become so focused on setting ourselves up to look good and appear “with it” that it becomes all about us.
Philippians 2:3 in the New Living Translation says “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.”

 

Clearly, making ourselves the center of attention is not a healthy way to go into these situations.

 

Thinking We Are Nothing

No one wants to talk to me. I’m a nobody. No one wants me here. This is just plain unhealthy. These things are lies. If you have these thoughts in your head, capture them right away! Ask yourself if you are thinking things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8) and then remind yourself of what is true!

 

There You Are!

This concept was shared with me recently, and it’s also presented here: What if, when we walked into a room or prepared to attend a function we thought about others? What if we prayed about who was going to be there and how we could serve them and make them feel welcome?
What if, instead of saying “Here I am!” we said “There you are!”
 Wouldn’t that totally transform how we go about… well… everything? Isn’t this the essence of the second greatest commandment – to love your neighbor as yourself? (Mark 12:31)

 

This was an instant load off for me! The burden is no longer on ME to make sure everything thinks well of ME! There is freedom to be friendly, to reach out, to introduce myself and give myself in service to my neighbor – whoever they may be.

 

I genuinely feel like I can breathe better.

 

This past Sunday our family was at a local church in town that I had never been to. My husband was asked to bring the message as the majority of the congregation, including the pastor who is a friend of ours, were at a church retreat. I knew a couple of people, but not many, and I was transported back to those support-building years when we would visit a different church every weekend. I could see the anxiety in my kids’ eyes. What do we do? Where do we sit? Who do we talk to?

 

There was a young woman sitting on the other side of the room all by herself, and I had a feeling the Lord was nudging me to say hello. I’ll be honest, usually I would say “No way, Lord. She’ll think I’m stupid. She’ll think I’m presumptuous – a guest introducing herself to someone who comes here all the time…” But I couldn’t shake it. So I crossed the aisle. And maybe it was a little awkward at first, but it turns out… she was visiting too. And her husband was sick so she was there that morning because it was close by.

 

So you see… You just never know who you might bless… Who you might welcome… Who you might serve… when you say “There you are!”

 

What if, instead of waiting to be welcomed, instead of waiting to be noticed and brought in from the fringes, we poured ourselves out for others? What if we recognized that we’re all broken up, bruised and busted and we all secretly want to be known and loved?

 

As Ann Voskamp says, “what if instead of waiting for good enough things to happen to us we could be the good thing to happen to someone else who’s waiting?”

 

The Broken Way - Ann Voskamp
I was blessed to receive an advance copy of Ann Voskamp’s new book, The Broken Way, and today it launches into the world.

If you, like me and like, well, all of us, have been hurt or bruised or feel broken, I commend this book to you. Perhaps it can be a light on your path like it has been on mine.

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  • kimwagner

    I LOVED this Lauren!! What a great perspective!