Welcome Some people walk into a room and command attention, like they are the most important people in the room. Some people are present in a room, gaining casual attention, conversation, and polite interaction. Other individuals in the same room are more like a piece of furniture or a fixture on the wall, present, but rarely noticed. Before we launch into the “everyone is unique, special and important” speech, hear me out. We’ve all been in these social situations. Some people get all the attention, whether positive or not, some people are having “normal” interactions, and others are mostly left out and ignored. There will be readers looking through rose-colored glasses thinking, “That doesn’t happen with mature adults.” Not true. And even if this didn’t happen exactly as I described (but it does), there are people who feel as if they fit into one of these categories. I’m going to share from my personal experience today, along with a couple resources I’ve been using to help me process this feeling of being “just a piece of furniture” and how I can now rejoice anyway.
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Food For Thought I was not only in my lowest place emotionally, but also socially. As I watched my career just crumble apart, I felt like I was just taking up space in the school where I worked. I knew I had a loving husband and amazing daughter at home. But I had no friends. Not at work, not at church, not in the neighborhood. But I think it impacted me most at work. There, I would listen to coworkers make plans with each other for dinner, movies, baseball games, and even going to the gym together. I would observe their interactions on social media and wonder why I was always left out. Everyone I worked with seemed to have at least one coworker that was also an actual friend. I even had people tell me they would go with me to a movie or event, only to be told a few days later they already went with someone else. This was usually followed by one of those exchanges that sounds a lot like “sorry, not sorry.” There is no other way to describe my feelings other than sad, lonely, and left out.
My husband told me repeatedly that I needed to find some female friends and companions. I think he was tired of filling that role, understandably so, but he was also worried about me. It’s sad, and maybe even a little ridiculous, to have a 30-something come home from school every day, only to hear “nobody likes me, everybody hates me, they probably wish I’d die.” Dramatic? Yes, very, but this is what it feels like when you have depression and continually feel left out, excluded and unwanted. It wasn’t like I hadn’t tried. I spent a lot of years trying very hard to fit in, participate, and lead. I tried acting certain ways, even when I didn’t really like how I was acting. I tried taking up certain hobbies or interests just to have something to talk about with people. But you have to feel accepted to make this work, and I did not.
Ideally, my career would have been rewarding enough so that I would have found enjoyment in going to work each day without worrying about the social aspect. I guess I’m just not that secure. That, and the fact that my career was completely crumbling, for so many reasons. The joy of my job that once kept me going was, in fact, no longer joyful to me. I do not blame this on others, but myself, as I lost focus on what was important and stopped letting God handle my daily worries and stress. But that’s a story for another day.
In the months before I actually left my job, I would come home and state that I was “just a piece of furniture, a fixture on the wall, something to be used to get a job done, but unappreciated and easily replaced.” In fact, those words were true…I was easily replaced and I haven’t been missed. At least not by employers and coworkers. I’ve been contacted by one person since I left 15 months ago. I’ve had former parents and students contact me, which has been really nice, a positive to hold onto in my reflections. I shouldn’t have been surprised based on the feelings I had in my final years working at this particular school, but I think in the back of my mind I was hoping I had been wrong. I was hoping my absence would be noticed. I was hoping I had mattered more. I was hoping I was more than just a piece of furniture or equipment taking up space in a classroom.
I think what bothers me more, however, is not letting it go. Every time I think I’ve put that piece of my life behind me I see or hear something that reminds me again that I was less important than I thought I was. Happily, though, I am working to process through it. I don’t want to stay stuck in this pattern. I don’t want to focus on the sad or negative parts of my life. I want to seek the truths in the situation.
That’s why when I recently read Anxious For Nothing-Finding Calm in a Chaotic World by Max Lucado I was amazed at how therapeutic this book was for me in processing my feelings. In the back of the book is a “study guide” with a range of personal questions to accompany each chapter. Chapter four, “Rejoice in the Lord Always,” was of particular interest to me because it addresses the idea of feeling “forgotten,” like Joseph in Genesis chapters 39-40, and my story is no where near that dramatic! I won’t list all of the reflection questions here but when I answered them in my journal I saw a pattern in my life. I don’t seem to be able to rejoice in the Lord when I feel left out or unaccepted. It’s a personal struggle, but one that I want to fix, now that I’ve made the connection.
I also read Lysa TerKeurst’s Uninvited, which was inspiring and eye-opening. Here is one of my absolute favorite authors sharing stories of being left out and uninvited. Really? It’s not just me? I’m not completely crazy? But even better, she shares scriptural perspectives reminding me that I can be “overlooked by others” but “handpicked by God.” There’s also words of wisdom for not falling apart in the middle of the hurt. Wow, I really need that!
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If you have ever struggled, like me, with feeling left out or unimportant, I highly recommend reading Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2016). You will find you are not just being “left out,” but set apart.
Do you feel anxious a lot? Are you curious why you feel as though everything is in chaos all the time? I recommend reading Anxious For Nothing by Max Lucado (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2017). Learning to confront the chaos, trust in God, and rejoice always are just a few wonderful ideas shared in this great book.
Today’s Scriptures These words…I need to read them, believe them, and live them. I am a work in progress!
Psalm 139:13-16 13 14 wonderfully 15 made 16
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 16Rejoice always, 17pray continually, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4 4Rejoice in the LORD always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Today’s DIY I do not have a recipe or big project to share today, but I am going to share a few of the Bible journaling pages I’ve worked on recently. If you are considering taking up this hobby that embraces spiritual growth and creativity, check out my post Bible Journaling: Yay! or Whoa! I also recommend the Crossway ESV Journaling Bible to begin your journey. The link takes you to the exact one I use.
Inspirations for today’s Bible journaling pages from Julie Williams via Pinterest, Pinterest and Google searches with unnamed artists, and my own personal ideas.