By Lori Freeland –
Dinner begins—I look at my watch—now.
Cars have pulled in and out of my neighbor’s driveways for the last half-hour. Babysitters arrive. Smartly dressed couples depart. From my perch on the window ledge, I admire Melissa’s sapphire holiday dress and envy Dawn’s red high heels. Even though I can’t see up close, I’m sure Jen sports glittery earrings to accent her new haircut.
A swift glance down at my black sweat pants and stained white T-shirt is enough to remind me that I’m not going to this holiday dinner.
My husband peeks around the corner. “Let’s go eat sushi at Geisha.”
“Not in the mood.”
He comes to stand behind me. “Fajitas at Cristina’s?”
George and Cathye are last to drive away and I yank the curtains closed with a sigh and shake my head. “I have a stomach ache.”
“Let me know if you change your mind.” His footsteps fade behind me.
We’re good neighbors. We mow our lawn, water our grass, pull our weeds. We drive down the street slowly, constantly vigilant of small children. We pet sit and mail collect. Rescue the occasional dog. We throw an annual barbeque. But tonight, we’re The Uninvited.
I’ve never been The Uninvited.
We must’ve done something wrong. I’m tired of trying to figure out what. Which drives me crazier? That we are the only people on the street not going? Or knowing that The Inviter made up her mind to dislike me, and nothing I do will change that? Maybe I’d feel better if I knew why, even if I can’t fix it.
I drop onto the chaise lounge in the living room and rest my head against the burgundy throw. No matter how many friends my husband reminds me that I have, it doesn’t help tonight. People are mean. I would never treat anyone that way.
The Lord whispers in my ear. “Are you sure?”
I grip the arms of the chair. “I would never be so callous with someone’s feelings.”
The whisper grows louder. “Remember when Caroline struggled with friendships and you told her to adjust?”
“Remember when Ann mourned a broken relationship and you told her she was obsessed? You said walk away and let it go?”
“Remember when Julie shared her feelings of alienation in your old neighborhood and you brushed her feelings off as paranoid?”
I am callous. And mean. I offer my friends paltry words, blow off their feelings when I should encourage and validate them instead.
A tear slips down my cheek. “I’m so sorry, Lord. I didn’t know.”
Until now, rejection has lived outside my world. Or maybe, until now, I’ve been obliviously unaware.
“Be a blessing with your words.” The Lord encourage sme. “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25 NIV).
I long to be refreshed. I want Him to heal the awful ache eating through my heart.
“You be the refresher.”
“Yes, Lord. I will.” I close my eyes and make a note to call my friends and ask their forgiveness—to let them know I finally get it.
My husband leans around the corner with a frown. “Crazy people talk to themselves. You gonna be okay?”
“Yeah.” With a tiny smile, in the midst of tears, I wipe my eyes on the corner of my ratty shirt. “Let me change my clothes and let’s go out for sushi.”