Choosing A New Lunch Table

I wrote this in the spring of 2017. I was too scared to publish it then. Today,  I’m not scared. If you’ve ever felt like you needed to sacrifice yourself to be acceptable to others, maybe this will encourage you.

***

I type the carefully chosen words and reread them more times than necessary. I click send and now it’s too late to retrieve them. All I can do now is pray these words are received well.

Three short paragraphs. An explanation I hope will clarify a misunderstanding. I feel vulnerable. My words will either be welcomed or rejected.

Two weeks ago, I sat in a room with friends. We laughed and shared stories and opinions. I left with a heart full, feeling grateful for this safe, comfortable, place. Somehow between that day and this one, the words shared became twisted and confused. My feelings of gratitude are gone. In their place, I feel shut out and alone.

Today’s email will fix it. I’m sure. In the meantime, I feel sick. The people-pleasing side of me wars with the rest of me that longs to be loved even if I dare share an honest, unpopular opinion.

My phone chimes. Slipping away to my room, I scan the reply.

Oh.

So, this is how it goes. The door I hope will open, locks instead. The words read like the click of a deadbolt.

I could try again. I know how to unlock that door: take it all back. Apologize for being me. Be grateful to sit in the leftover chair someone else doesn’t want. Say and do whatever serves you best. The door would open and I’d be welcomed.

I can’t do it anymore. I won’t.

These lyrics play inside my head: “I don’t even know where to start, already tired of trying to recall when it all fell apart”. . .”I just want to learn how, somehow, to be loved myself.”

It sounds cliche to use the word, “journey”.  The right word certainly isn’t “adventure.” “Stage” sounds like something negative I need to get past. Whatever the right term, what I’m trying to say is I’ve been an unhealthy people-pleaser and I don’t want to live that way anymore.

There was a time I would have walked back my words. I wanted a place more than I wanted to be known. I was a peace-keeper. Sweet smiles, in the name of faithfulness.

I’ve been wondering, “Is there a place for me if I disagree?” I’m afraid I know the answer in this circle. I can take another chance at defending myself, but I know the price.

My place at the table will cost someone else theirs.

(image credit)

What do you do when the only way to defend your name hurts someone else’s? I know my decision.

I let them think whatever they wish of me. It’s common to middle-school girls. Expected, even. But I’m not a middle-school girl. I’m 40. It hurts just the same. The difference, now, is I’m not forced to share a lunch table.

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