It was a pity-party type of evening. A couple more baby announcements were coming in hot. I knew they were coming, eventually those sweet little thangs have to come out. But these announcements felt like the last couple of bricks being laid on the walls, closing in, suffocating me. The walls are tall now, and it’s dark where I stand and damp under my eyes. I want to scream out to them, “WHAT ABOUT ME?!” But they won’t hear me. They can’t.
As I get older, and everyone around me buys mini vans, I feel more and more like I don’t belong. I don’t quite fit in wherever we go. The number of girls I know in this exact same place, well, the number is narrowing.
I was feeling this HARD that rainy night. Dark clouds outside and inside my heart. My kind, caring husband says to me, “Let’s get out.” So, we tip toe around puddles on the way to the car and stop at Barnes and Noble and then Chipotle, because everyone knows that’s a killer pity-party combo.
We may or may not have gotten frozen yogurt.
I got a new book. I ate something chocolatey, but I was still feeling that blah feeling. The kind that never knocks on the door before she comes in and never gets the hint that you want her to leave.
We were on our way home, and just as the words left my lips, “I just feel left out,” we round a corner and there she is. Standing in the rain. Her wrinkled face is wet and sad. She’s holding a cardboard sign, but I can’t read what it says, I can only look into her lonely eyes and give her an awkward smile.
“I bet she feels left out,” I say to Jesse.
Left out of society. Left out of warmth and laughter. Left out of the will to fight whatever it is she might be fighting.
I want her to know she is important. I want her to feel acknowledged. I want to get out of the car and hug her and tell her, “I see you. You aren’t alone. I’m here.”
But I don’t. All I offer in that moment is my awkward smile.
My sadness shifts course. Away from my lame party, toward something much bigger. Away from circumstances God has me living for a reason (even though I don’t always like it), toward a realization that He’s going to use this, in a powerful way.
In a split second, I am aware.
I do not know what it feels like to stand in the rain with a cardboard sign in my hands.
And there are plenty of other cold realities I’m not familiar with. Plenty of other ways I am incredibly blessed in this life.
My experience in being left out, the tiniest sliver of loneliness, compared to that of others, can be used as empathy. I choose to use it as empathy and understanding.
Someday, I’ll have a daughter. My guess is, at times, she might feel left out. Maybe because she’ll look different than the other kids. Maybe someone will tease her for being adopted. Maybe she’ll need a little extra help and she’ll feel unworthy because of it. God, I hope not. But, she very well might. Whatever the case may be, I’ll have a shiny opportunity to flash back to all those instances that I, too, felt left out. Different, but the same.
I’ll have a chance to let her know she is important. To acknowledge her. To hug her and tell her, “I see you. You aren’t alone. I’m here.”
I’ll think back to the days when my arms were empty and it felt like the walls were closing in. I’ll think about that sad woman, out in the rain. I’ll think about all the babies my precious girl started life with, who might never have a family. Oh yes, they will certainly feel left out.
And I’ll get to tell her the greatest news in the whole wide world. The most beautiful thing we could ever imagine. The truth that has set me free from feeling left out. I’ll wipe her tears and smooth her silky, black hair and tell her about the almighty Jesus, who breaks down walls and shines hope in dark hearts. That he’s got her in his hands. In his will. That her pain is valid, but also paid for. That she will never, ever, ever be forgotten because no matter what the situation, no matter the dividing lines, no matter if she feels like no one sees her…
And he sees me, too.