“We want to matter to the people we think matter. We want the people we think matter to single us out. We want them to spend time with us. We want them to invite us in.
We want in. Left on the wrong side of the door, we can regress into eighth grade versions of ourselves in mere minutes. We worry that we’re too tall, too short, too uncool or unfashionable or uncomfortable in our own skins to fit in.
There is a voice that whispers all the reasons we deserve to be out – a voice that taunts. There is a voice that relentlessly lists every time we’ve found ourselves on the outside and actually revels in each remembering. There’s a mean girl inside us all who will hypnotize us if we let her. Everyone is on the outside of something, but that is only half the story. The GOOD NEWS is that we are all on the inside of something – often without even realizing it.” Lisa-Jo Baker
I cringe at the thought that there’s still a teenager inside of me someplace, that middle school version of myself that could be in the proverbial clouds one minute and crying in a heap on the floor the next. Friends, non-friends, cliques and classmates were the center of the universe around which everything else revolved. It wasn’t true of course, but that was my reality anyways. One day you’re in the group, the next you get passed a note on pink lined paper informing you “you’re out.” I’ll never forget at some point in seventh grade when I was told there was no more room at the table for me (the literal lunch table) and that I needed to go find a different place to sit. The world may as well have ended. We can all probably remember times like these, they play like cassette tapes in our heads. We have all been there, on the inside and suddenly on the outside. On the flip side, there are probably just as many times when we ourselves dished it out to someone, knowingly or not, and left them on the outside looking in.
In seventh grade I had no concept of a bigger picture, no grasp of how soon it would pass, and no understanding that most of these people wouldn’t matter in a year or two. I didn’t quite yet see Jesus as the friend I really needed, the one who would never leave. He was there, I remember, I just put things ahead of Him in the pecking order. I prayed and prayed to be let back into the group, not realizing I was already on the inside of a lot of other things. I had other friends. I had outside activities. I just chose to focus on the one thing I couldn’t be a part of.
I’ve read some lately about the mentality we develop that somehow there isn’t enough to go around. Enough of what, exactly? Good things. Success, happiness, joy. Invitations, likes on Instagram, places on the team. You name it. We gather our goods around us and hold tightly to them, while giving the side-eye to our neighbor if they have something good as well.
“Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality. They see life as hiving only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else. People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very hard time being genuinely happy for the success of other people. The Abundance Mentality, on the other hand, flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody.” Steven Covey
It’s like that idea of holding tightly to a handful of sand, the tighter you grasp, the more you lose.
I thank God for the things I’ve learned since middle school. I acknowledge that I sometimes repeat old patterns of my seventh grade self as well. The biggest thing I’ve learned? Maybe that we are designed by our Maker to be absolutely FILLED with His love first and foremost before we can even attempt to be satisfied by things of the world. Mark 3:14 says that Jesus “appointed the twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach…” They were to just BE with Jesus first. Here are the three words I’ve been pondering for a few weeks: ABIDE. DWELL. DELIGHT.
If we aren’t filling ourselves with Jesus first, everything else is going to fail before it even gets started. If we don’t take time to sit at His feet and soak in HIS peace, HIS truth, and HIS words to us, we are going to go out and grasp at everything we come across, begging it to fulfill us in a way that only God can.
If you know in your bones that you are complete in Jesus and fulfilled in Him… His desires become your greatest desires. How interesting. His ways are all about abundance, not lacking or striving. We are never on the outside with Him. When He becomes the center around which everything rotates, those insecurities and troubles don’t seem quite as debilitating anymore.
He tells us that in quietness and confidence is our strength (Isaiah 30:15). We don’t have to strive to get on the inside of anything, we need to simply sit at His feet and be with Him. Allow Him to bless us so we may go be a blessing to others. There is more than enough to go around, no matter what our seventh grade self may whisper to us. We are always on the inside with HIM.