Making Room at the Table

Making Room at the Table

Making Room at the Table

I want to be raw and honest and real. I want to be polished and on point and put together. I hope for my words to be true but I wonder if they should be filtered.

Like a photo, edited to highlight the best parts – leaving some truth in the original image – I more often want you to see what is pleasing.

My words aren’t always seasoned with grace. They are sometimes raw with the passion that pours from my mercy heart. That place in my soul, shaped by my Creator that sees the lonely, the hurting, the tossed aside.

I know what it’s like to not fit in. I’m okay with that.

Those days of striving to fit in only managed to draw me away from my true self. To fit in we must become an imitation of someone else. A cheap imitation at best. A piece of plastic that will break under pressure or melt in the heat.

Belonging. To belong is a different story. To Love Passionately means that everyone belongs. No one is made to feel like an outsider but there is a place for everyone.

I ache when I see someone made to feel as if they don’t belong. When there is no room at the table.

Growing up in home of seven people, we always had leaves for the table.  Whenever someone came we would extend the table to make room for others. We would offer them the best chairs and pull up a stool or folding chair for one of us.

There was always room at our table.

One Sunday I brought home two friends for supper. My mom had invited the local baptist college president that day. My brothers were mortified that I’d brought long haired friends with holes in their jeans and flip flops. At first glance my mom was upset too.

She relayed her angst later. “I’ve always told you I wanted an open home. My first thought was what our guest would think. Then it dawned on me that he is a college president and probably enjoyed having more young people around.”

It was true. Our meal was full of laughter, good food and warm company. My friends weren’t the type to fit in but there was no doubt, they belonged.

Jesus picked twelve very different men. He asked them to follow Him and only expected them to reflect Him in the things that mattered. In fact, He used their differences to benefit the ministry.

Sometimes I feel like Peter.

Sinking Peter, Denying Peter, Impulsive Peter, Clueless Peter must have drawn many an eye roll among the disciples.  He wasn’t known as a charming “Yes Man”.

Peter had questions.

Peter had ideas.

Peter had really big feelings.

These are the ways I feel like Peter.

In hindsight, we love Peter. His bold honesty and tremendous faith are something we want to connect with. That vulnerable moment where he stepped out on the water is how we hope others see us. Boldly fixing his eyes on the Savior he was woven into a miracle. Peter’s legacy is one of faith and failure in the same story.

Peter sank and sometimes we sink too.

We hide our face as the water begins to wash over our ankles. When our gaze of faith strays away to become fixed on our own achievements we start to sink. Sinking leads to flailing until I’m reminded to reset my gaze back to the one who says “You belong to me”.

When we focus on our position we lose the ability to see the One who never waivers. We begin to grasp our influence in our clenched fist instead of an open hand. Open hands understand that opportunity is a gift, it isn’t earned. When we get that. we begin to make room at the table.

We want faith without failure.

We forget that faith comes with grace. It accompanies failure and pain along with awkward imperfections.

We look for faith we can see and require others to earn grace. Ironic isn’t it?

When including others is contingent on how well we agree, we all miss out. When we believe leading means assembling people who never see things from a different perspective, we lose. The souls we’ve been entrusted to serve lose too.

Those who think exactly like us don’t stretch us. They keep us from climbing out of the boat and sometimes even worse they strand us on the shore.

 

About Jemelene

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