A Place at the Table Wednesday, October 8th, 2014
My heart races. My palms sweat. I’m face to face with one of my worst fears. No, I’m not talking about snakes or spiders or even being kidnapped. I’m in the middle of a crowded lunch room surrounded by people that I do not know without a place to sit or a friend in the world.
We had moved a lot when I was younger. And at each new school, I would avoid the cafeteria like the plague. For a year, I walked home every day to each lunch by myself instead of having to face the lunch room. At another school, I chose to eat on a quiet bench instead of having to find a seat in the cafeteria.
But this year, my junior year of high school, there would be no avoiding it. I would be face to face with one of the most uncomfortable scenarios that I could imagine, and it wasn’t because I disliked being around other people. It was because I LOVED being around other people. I just could not imagine anything worse than feeling as though you are unwanted or unwelcome.
As lunch time approached on the first day of my junior year, I decided that I would just hide… I mean… wait it out in the library. But when I found the library doors locked, I resigned to the fact that I would have to return to the cafeteria. I strolled the rows of tables all full of friends and food, but I couldn’t find an empty seat anywhere. So, I walked to the edge of the room, and sat down against the brick wall. I have never wished that my skin was red-bricked colored more than I did in that moment.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option, and the next day, I would have to face it all again. Or so I thought.
“My name is Sarah. What’s yours?”
She caught me off guard. “Oh. I’m Becky.” We were supposed to be learning Spanish, but Sarah was about to teach me something far more valuable. “Hey. I saw you sitting against the wall yesterday at lunch. It was so sad….”
“Great.” I thought to myself. “At least no one noticed.”
She continued, “You CANNOT do that again. Eat with me today.”
She couldn’t have known how much that moment meant to me. But she saw someone that needed a place to sit and knew she had room at her table.
Oh if there were only more Sarahs in the world.
I’ve thought about that simple conversation a lot over the last ten plus years. Because there have been more moments in my life where I have felt like I am still the kid wandering through the cafeteria with a tray in her hand and no place to put it down.
Maybe you feel like her too. Maybe you are starting a new job, or have moved to a new town. Maybe you are a mommy who spends her days taking care of little ones and you are desperate for friendship. Or maybe you are like me and find yourself in the middle of a brand new adventure (like writing a book) with a community of people who have already found their seats… who have been doing this for a long time… and you wonder where you will fit in or if you will be welcome.
Today, I want to encourage your heart.
Friend, there is always room at the Father’s table. The Lord says that there is a place for you. You are welcome just as you are. He is sending Sarahs all across the world today. He is sending people to love and encourage and welcome you fully into their lives. Those of you at home, or on a bench, or against the wall. Because you aren’t unseen. He won’t let you disappear. He doesn’t want you to be alone.
Today, I’m sliding over, come sit with me. Because as one who has already found a place to sit, it is my job to be a hostess of His presence. To remind you that you are wanted. You are welcome. You are loved.
Come sit with me, and together we will feast with the Father.