(photo by Sherry Moore)
My husband and I were at a large seat-yourself restaurant the other day. The place can easily seat around 200 people. We were eating an early lunch with errands filling up our day. We had not been seated for long when a very elderly couple walked in and caught my attention.
The husband was on crutches and moved very slowly and the wife patiently went step by step with him. They stopped and looked around for a table, but a few moments later the man tossed up a hand in frustration and shook his head slowly.
I looked around. The place was not even half full. There were plenty of tables clean and available. So, what was the problem? I looked back at the couple as they just stood there looking around. I then realized the issue. He had crutches. The tables were close together and there was no place for them. There were tables up against a half wall in one section, but if he placed the crutches there then other people would not be able to move the next table’s chair to sit down…or leave if they did get seated. This was quickly pointed out to the waiter who offered a half wall table to the couple. Finally, the man shrugged his shoulders and with help from the waiter he was seated and the crutches placed upright against the wall. I could tell the couple was uncomfortable and I thought about how nice it would be for restaurants to have designated spots to place walkers, wheelchairs, canes…and crutches.
Now, you may not think this is a big deal, but I also thought about how when it comes to trying to find a place to belong we are all very like this couple. We purposefully seek out people and places where we are accepted as we are and where we feel a real sense of belonging.
We go to churches, meet-ups, clubs, gyms, rallies, etc…just always seeking the right place and people to be accepted and, well, loved. To feel needed. To feel wanted. Sometimes when you express what you are searching for to others you get the same advice. “Really? Why, there are lots of places to “plug in”! There is this place over there…and that place over here. How can you not find anything?” And you sigh and kind of wish you hadn’t said anything. You are like that couple in the restaurant. Lots of seats. No where for you, though. No where for the needs and wants for you specifically. At this point you do one of two things. You give up or you keep searching.
Giving up is easiest. I can tell you though that in the end it’s the most depressing thing you will do. It is the least beneficial to your whole being. So, don’t do that. Just don’t.
Keep looking. Keep visiting places and people. It may take a while, but out of the billions of people in this world there is a place for you out there. I guarantee it.
I want to ask you to try one thing. Just one little challenging thing.
Pray for God to put people right in your path to connect with and have fun with or hang out. Just ask Him for one friend. Just one. To start.
Okay, I do have one other thing to challenge you. One more and that’s all. Ready?
Love people. It doesn’t matter who it is…even the jerk that cuts you off while driving or cuts in line at the coffee shop or whatever turns your day a little sour. Love them. Smile, forgive, be nice. Be nice. Go out of your way to show them the courtesy they wouldn’t show to you. Give a generous tip the waiter/waitress that was snarky. Just do good and love. God takes note of that stuff, you know. You’ll have a better day, too. That day will turn into a better week and so on. Your whole being will be stronger, too…like bodybuilding. Only it’s spirit building. And it takes practice. Every single day.
If you mess up, it’s fine. Like eating that office donut after you’ve been trying your best to eat right. It’s okay. Donuts are delicious. Eat the dang donut and get back to it!
Just don’t settle for what’s seems to be the only available table. Go find another place to have a look around. Don’t. Give. Up.