I’ve taken a break from my blog for the past month as I’ve just been overwhelmingly busy with kids and life. Between potty training, birthdays, holidays, sickness, etc., I needed to prioritize a few things and focus on just that. But a week ago I was speaking with my niece and it struck me that our conversation would be great to add in the blog.
My niece came over early for our weekly life group, which includes a few different families coming to our house, eating dinner, discussing life, and Bible application. My niece and I were talking by ourselves and she decided to confide in me about something that was getting her spirits down. She told me that a girl who she previously was close with at school decided to exclude her for no good reason. She said that a girl that moved back to town become better friends with the other and they left my niece out of the group. Instead of them all playing together, they said there was no room in the group for my niece.
I instantly felt horrible for her. I knew from my own experience that there is a deep pain that comes from being excluded. When you are excluded, you wonder what you’ve said or done. You start to wonder what’s wrong with you. You may even feel your entire self-esteem take a big hit.
I consoled her and told her about my own experience with being excluded. I told her that I’m sure she hadn’t done anything wrong and maybe it would even be helpful to ask her friend if she was upset with her and try to repair the friendship. I also shared with her about the ugly truth of excluding.
I told her that this doesn’t stop at any certain age. It is not just something that happens in elementary school. This can even happen as adults! She didn’t believe me at first. I shared with her a few of my experiences as an adult with exclusion and she was shocked. Then I flipped it around so that she would learn a lesson.
“Be the friend to others, that you want them to be to you,” I said. It’s a very simple concept that is taught from pre-school on, but even as adults we fail to practice it very often. If you see someone new at church, school, a group you’re involved in, etc., reach out to them try to include them. It can go such a long way! I have talked to so many people that have never returned places because they simply felt excluded, unwanted, or that no one even noticed them.
As kids, it’s sometimes easy to look at someone different than you and not want to include them. It’s even easier as adults to not practice what we preach to our kids and exclude people who may smell different, dress different, have less than or more than. But now more than ever, since I’m a parent to two young girls, I want them to see me including others, no matter what their circumstances are.
“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ while you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there,’ or, ‘Sit down at my feet,’ have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” (James 2:1-4, English Standard Version).
I urge you to be inclusive. Show others God’s love through a simple “Hello” or introduction. Invite them to your group. Invite them for a play date. Ask if you can help them. Remind those around you the Golden Rule that we sometimes forget, “Treat others how you’d like to be treated.”
“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:7, English Standard Version).