An Invitation to Risk

“Can I come?” These words were a real risk for me as a young girl. I still find them to be my truth at times. My heart closes to protect me from rejection as a painful story resurfaces.

I was invited to a slumber party by one of my friends. She was part of the popular group. I wasn’t sure why she included me in her circle of friends, but I felt grateful. I was giddy with excitement for her invitation. It was my first slumber party. I hadn’t known much celebration in my life by then and invitations to others’ parties didn’t happen often for me.

As quickly as I was invited, I was uninvited. The lie she shared was the party was postponed. The truth – her mother didn’t want me there because I was “a bad girl from the wrong side of the tracks.”

I did live close to the railroad tracks in the poor part of town. My home was of much less value than those of others invited to the party.

But being a bad girl was not true. Sadly I took those words in deeply and have lived far too often out of that unkind and untrue label. Bad things were happening to me in my home and my unhealthy neighborhood. But I was not bad. I was NOT a bad girl!

I believe that truth today. I am also aware that the damage of rejection I felt so deeply as a young girl has left a sensitive place in my heart. It’s a place where I can momentarily struggle with invitations. Invitations I receive and those I offer.

I have a longing to ask “Can I come?’ And also a desire to risk asking “Will you come?”

I was created to be in community and so were you. That’s God’s desire for us, not to travel through life alone; but together, sharing the joys and sorrows of our journeys.

Evil desires otherwise. Evil wants me to feel the sting of the rejection and convince me it’s because I’m flawed in some way. He desires the same for you as well. His lies are condemning and full of attack at our dignity and our beauty. Evil wants us to believe we are undesirable to accept or offer invitations to join with others.

With very little biological family to connect to, I long for community that I create and community that invites me to join them.   I hold a tray with two servings – the “both/and” of desire with the intrusion of evil’s taunts.   Evil so wants me to remember the rejection and name myself as the bad girl nobody wanted or wants to be around.

That’s an attack against my self value. That’s a bold faced lie from the pit! Sometimes I have to repeat that louder and louder until I remember who I truly am.

I recently invited some special women back to “The Gathering.” For two years I’ve offered a monthly place for them to come and share their hearts in a warm and safe environment. They quickly accepted my invitation. Our date is set, and we will gather together again soon.

Last weekend I hosted an evening for some new friends. I struggled at times with old thoughts. Would my home be clean enough? Would my guests notice the dust I didn’t get to? Would my food be adequate?

As I peeled potatoes God offered me a memory of times I’ve spent in third world countries. We ate in homes constructed of salvaged boards and tin. Our hosts offered us the best they had and we ate in gratitude, humbled to be their invited guests. It wasn’t about the material things. It was about hearts gathered together, stories shared and memories made.

My home is a mansion compared to some of those hosts. It doesn’t matter. The food I served was a feast compared to some I was served. The food didn’t matter. That wasn’t what my heart longed for or that of my hosts. Our gathering was about caring and sharing story and would have been precious had we eaten nothing sitting out under a tree.

Our new friends came. We shared food and wine. We laughed and enjoyed one another. More importantly, we shared story and heart places.

No mention was made of dust.

Speaking of dust, here’s a great tip for entertaining. Candlelight not only sets a delightful mood for an evening gathering, it lights a home with a lovely evening glow which covers any variety of cleaning projects you didn’t get to.

My “can I come?” and “will you come?” is taking a stand against the lies lying dormant at the moment. If they come again, I’ll remember what’s really important. I’ll be tender to the heart of the young uninvited girl and honor the heart of the woman I am becoming. Together we will risk the invitation believing it will be good.

Is there a place within your heart asking to invite and be invited?

valerie avery Valerie Avery treasures the journey of embracing all God has gifted her with including creating art and beauty using fibers, beads and nature. The bond of 50 years of marriage has created a legacy as mother to 5 and “Grammie” to 20. She is venturing into the world of writing and is grateful for a place to share stories of growth and hope.  You can read more here.