The Need to be Included

By Keith Miller | April 6, 2009

Keith, I know this may sound ridiculous, but when you first became a Christian, did you sometimes miss being invited to parties you didn’t even enjoy any more?

Oh yeah, and it still happens sometimes.One time a while back two different people called in the same week to ask us for details about a party that was being given by some good friends of ours.In each case we laughed and said that we were sorry we couldn’t help them, because we were not invited.They were very embarrassed, and we thought the whole thing was funny.In any case, we had another regular commitment to a group of Christians on that night and could not have accepted.

But then, when I was alone in my office, I found myself wondering why they did not invite us, since both couples who called fit our “category” for invitations.And one was not particularly close to the host couple at all.I felt all this even though I realized our friends probably knew about our other commitment.The insecurities of my childhood came scampering back across the years to make me miserable.

How strange this experience is.I wouldn’t trade our Christian life and friends and the meaning we are finding together in Christ for any other way of living we have known—especially the driving, party-filled life.And yet when the first “sounds of music” reach my ears across the night, I am sometimes gripped by my “inner child of the past” who tells me I am being left out of life.And I realize that it is this built-in incompleteness which keeps me from congratulating myself about my self-sufficiency in Christ and makes me turn again to God as a child.

In counseling others during the past few years, and in my own experience, I have come to see how universal and exaggerated the need to be accepted can be.And, as I suggested, the desire can be strongly activated even when one is not particularly interested in the event in question.Some years ago when our children were much younger, we all had been out on a family picnic.When we came home, we were very tired.One of the little girls ran in and asked me to unbutton her dress.I tickled her between each button, a ritual that had delighted her since she was very tiny, and she ran off into her room, laughing.

A few minutes later, when I went in to kiss the girls good night, an older sister was very long-faced and quiet.She looked up.

“Play with me, Daddy.”

“Oh, no,” I told her gently, “it’s too late, baby.”

“You played with sister,” she whispered, almost weeping.

“No, I didn’t, honey, I just unbuttoned her dress.”

“But . ..” (and now there were tears in her eyes)“. . . but Daddy, I heard her laughing.”

This morning here in my office I am remembering that little scene, and I realize that although I can outgrow my concern about not being in the mainstream of certain kinds of “parties and games,” I will always have the deep need to be included.And I suspect this need will always drive me out of myself as a solitary Christian and back to God and God’s people.

Someone has imagined God first fashioning man, and one of the host of heaven, watching, exclaiming in alarm, but you are giving this creature freedom! He will never be wise enough or strong enough to handle it.He will think himself a god.he will boast in his own self-sufficiency.How can you gamble that he will ever return to you?And God replies, I have left him unfinished within.I have left in him deep needs that only I can satisfy, that out of his desire, his homesickness of soul, he will remember to turn to me.
F. B. Speakman, The Salty Tang

Lord, thank you that you have called us Christians into a loving family and not to a lonely way.Thank you that the longing to be included, which seems to be planted in us from the beginning, has finally been met in a relationship with you and your people.And thank you for the reminder from the past this morning.As I try to witness to you that which I have seen and heard of you today, help me to be more aware of other people who come into your Christian family at church and of their need tofeelincluded . . . when they hear laughter across a room, or a city.In Jesus’ name. Amen.

What we have seen and heard we declare to you, so that you and we together may share in a common life, that life which we share with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ.And we write this in order that the joy of us all may be complete. 1 John 1:3,4 NEB

Topics: Christian Living, Weekly Devotional | Comments Off on The Need to be Included
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