Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Open Day

OK, listen up.  I've had an idea - and it's a bit of a gem.  It's not very original, but it is most definitely effective and that's all that counts.

You know those days, weeks, periods when you feel really 'bleurgh'.  When you're stuck at home with nothing to do and no one to do it with.  When you're staring dolefully at your facebook feed as it goads you with status after photo after update of everyone else in the world having fun?  It feels pretty hopeless doesn't it?  Like you've been forgotten.  And it makes you mad because you can't understand why no one scoops you up and includes you.  Well, I have two things to say to you...

The first is a bit of tough love.  Yes, you probably have been forgotten.  Not because you're bad or boring, unloved or unwanted, but because you're off radar.  The people in your facebook feed don't know you're sat at home in your pjs, sobbing at the screen.  They don't know you want to hangout with them.  They don't know that you're not with someone else.  Now, yes, we could argue that some of them should pay more attention.  But then we would have to, too.  We would have to stop looking at all of the updates and scroll through our feeds looking for the people who aren't posting.  Who are most likely sat at home, like you, waiting for an invite.

This leads nicely onto my second point...

Extend an open invite to everyone you know to join you in some activity.

Sounds ridiculous, right?  And a little bit hard?  I hear you.

For the first 15 months of Dope's life I was the one at home.  I was alone and lonely and mad at the world for leaving me there.  As the fug of baby days left me I realised that actually, I had withdrawn.  No one was calling because I made out like everything was fine.  That's what I said when people asked me, 'I'm fine'.  But I wasn't.  Every bit of my heart and soul was crying out for them to see past this veneer.  They didn't.

I got so low,  I gave up hoping for any invite and resolved to make the most of my little family, screw the rest of them.  Then I started thinking about all of the other people like me out there.  All of the other isolated people being ignored by the 'in' crowd.  And this tugged on my heart a bit.  I changed tack.  Yes, it seemed too late for me, but it may not be too late for someone else.  I may be able to step in and BE their invite.

So that's what I did.  I thought and prayed on this for a little while, unsure what form this plan would take and who it would involve.  I settled on a single mum at church who I never saw included in anything either.  I reached out to her and made a play date.  Now, because I'm a bit socially awkward and felt like after the invite there was so little I could give, I panicked when she accepted.  I asked her if she would mind if we opened the invite up a bit and I posted on facebook that I would host a Valentine's afternoon for anyone who wanted to join.

What a result.  Two other women joined us.  First of all, this took the pressure off me conversation-wise and for that I will be eternally grateful to them.  They rescued my guest from an afternoon of being babbled at by me.  It also meant that I had pulled two more people in from the cold.  I felt pretty smug.  I had 'rescued' these women from their loneliness and, I felt, won a victory over my facebook feed by hosting an event rather than just gawping at one from afar.

But then something else happened.  A few people joked that they wished they didn't have husbands to spend Valentine's with because my idea seemed better.  They followed up with a suggestion that we arrange another day when we can hangout.  And those days happened.  Reaching out to one woman put me slap bang back on the social radar.  I now have plans and invites and feel included in life again.  I'm building relationships, connections and true friendships.  It's fab.

And you know what else?  All of those women, without exception - yes, even the thin, pretty, smart ones - tell me how they look at social media and feel left out.  That they feel worn out and left out, too.  I've learned that we're all struggling here, it's not just me.  Or you.  It's all of us.

There's a good lesson in here about loving others as you do yourself.  I love this commandment and it's one I live by.  But now, for the first time I realise that we weren't told to do this simply to make life nice for those around us.  This is God's way of ensuring that we stay connected to each other, it benefits the givers as much as the receivers.  By following his command we are forced to open up our own lives and that allows him to pour even more blessings in.  He's got this all figured out, hasn't He?

Tonight Buda is out at Kung Fu, Dopey's in bed and I'm relishing the solitude.  Tonight it doesn't feel lonely or imposed, it feels precious.  Time to relax, own my own space and reflect on all of the gifts I've been given.

So what are you waiting for?  Do it.  Do it now.  Post an invite, open up your world.  You may just be amazed at who comes in.

Till next time,