We take for granted our access to clean water, HVAC systems, and food, but recently I have realized there was something else I take for granted. I grew up surrounded by smiles. I never understood what a precious gift that was.
I would have to say every single time I have seen my mother over the last 48 years; there has been a clear message that she loves me. Indeed, there were times of great trial, but I can assure you I have always known her love for me. In many ways, this is because she acknowledges my presence in a genuinely caring way. Whether it is “Good morning,” when I wake up, “hello” as I walk into a room, or the way she can’t wait to see me when arriving home from being away.
My mother lights up at the sight of me, and I am no different with my children.
The way I was greeted in my previous-abusive household, was one of the most significant trials I faced. Particularly the final years with my ex-husband, the disdain that he expressed at the sight of me, hurt more than anything else. I would come home from a women’s retreat or a writing conference to the face of a person who could care less that I was in his presence. Often what it felt like was his repulsion at the sight of me.
My new home is very different, for the most part. My husband greets me with a kiss. He outwardly acknowledges the value of my presence when he gets home or when I wake up. He welcomes me with love, joy, a smile and usually a kiss. I imagine God has the same pleasure when I take time out to connect with Him.
I said, “for the most part,” because when my husband’s children are here, they are not as excited to be in my presence as my mom, my new loving husband or many of my friends. Not feeling valued in my home is an area that I have to grow in. It hurts my soul when I am not greeted or even acknowledged; especially in a house where God placed me to be a source of light, love, and hospitality.
I am learning I cannot change people and I am slowly accepting the fact that few people want a stepmother. I am beginning to value what I took for granted; having a mother who made me feel loved every time I came into her presence. I can only imagine what it is like to have a mother who is too busy to greet her children, or perhaps a parent, like my ex-husband, who met me with the look of disgust.
Living with the contrast of having someone say hello with a smile vs. feeling like I don’t exist makes me understand that I most certainly need to recognize every soul I pass, every day. Whether it is a homeless person, an addict, a mother yelling at her children in Walmart, someone asking for prayer on Facebook, or the neighbor I struggle to communicate with because I have yet to learn to speak with my hands and listen with my eyes (ASL). Everyone has a story, everyone matters to God and by my noticing others, God is shining through me. Everyone feels better when they are acknowledged, even if it is with a smile or eye contact.
One thing I inherited from my mother is the joy of having my children around. When my children come home, I exude energy and light, or so my new husband tells me. I know my greeting must be overwhelming, but I realize now how valuable it is to when greeted with a smile, hug and a sincere welcome. I know what it feels like to enter a space and be ignored as if your existence is neither here nor there. I know what it feels like to hurt because you feel invisible to those who don’t recognize you in the space with which you share.
How do you feel when you enter the environments in your life?
Are those around you aware of the value you bring to this world? Are you greeted with love; or like my former marriage are you greeted with the presence of repulsion?
You will not thrive in an environment where those around you do not value you. The good news is that no matter where you are on earth, God will always appreciate you, right where you are, and greet you with His Agape Love.
Maybe you’ve been beaten down also. Perhaps you have come to accept a lack of acknowledgment, a lack of joy because you have been led to believe you are not important.
Do you feel unclean? If you feel too guilty and shameful to go to God; know that God still provides a way. God’s provision is for EVERYONE. No matter the depth of sin, His forgiveness is offered for all.
All we need to do is pray something like this:
God, I am not worthy of Your unconditional love, but I believe Jesus died for my sin. I believe what Your word says. If I acknowledge that I am a sinner and You cannot be in the presence of sin, but that You desire more than anything to be in my presence. You made a way. You gave Your one and Only Son Jesus, to die for my sin. In believing this, I am washed clean as snow. Simply because I believe You love me enough to do such a thing, even though I am unworthy.
I will not let guilt and shame separate me from You when you gave me such an excellent and sacrificial gift of redemption. I receive what You have done for me Lord- I receive the cleansing of my soul through the death of Jesus.
No matter how you have been greeted by those around you, let me assure you that God’s greeting –no matter what you have done- where you have been- who you have hurt- is one of great love. Even if it is your very first time to acknowledge Him, even if you are coming to Him out of need, He is waiting for you with open arms.
Do not take my word for it, read it in His word.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
1Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
3So he told them this parable: 4“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
The Parable of the Lost Coin
8“Or what woman, having ten silver coins,a if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
The Parable of the Prodigal Son
11And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out tob one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
17“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’20And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’c 22But the father said to his servants,d ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
25“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.30But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
If you do not feel emotionally safe in any environment, you are not in God’s will. Please take advantage of my free 30-minute coaching session, download my free journal, and share my material with those you know need to hear this message. Please add your name to my mailing list so that you won’t miss any updates. Consider having me speak or run a Soul Work breakout session at your next event.
Well, in my time of getting to know you, whenever I see you around DT Frederick or Wholistic Women’s Retreat, I am utterly glad you’re there!
you too my friend!
I recently moved to a new area of town, and have been stunned at the number of churches we have visited (some of them small) where people barely acknowledge a new face, or do not even follow up with a phone call or email after visits, even though forms are filled out with the info. At my home, my nuclear family members are not particularly excited to see me either, unless they need money, although I always try to greet them warmly. I did a lot of soul searching to see if the problem was me, and I really do not believe it is. I try to be engaging and upbeat with others and ask people about themselves, but many in our current culture simple do not seem to care enough to notice others. Sadly, many ‘meetup groups’ that I attend, which are filled with more secular-minded people, are more kind and excited to see me than my family or church friends. It can be very painful.
That is tragic. Thank you for sharing. Please let us know when you find that right church home. May others see this and realize the value of a smile.