Have you ever felt left out by people you thought were your friends?
It was Spring Break 2016, and my family had a bunch of family friends from church over to our house for a great big get-together. After dinner, some of the kids (who were all teenagers lol) wanted to go to a local ice cream shop for desert.
I heard a few of them mention this idea and then went into planner mode. I scurried around my house, finding all the other kids (who were also teenagers) to explain the ice cream idea to them.
Then those of us kids who could drive started discussing which cars we would take and how much room was in each of them. We all headed out to the front yard, and there we discovered that one of our parent’s cars was blocking us in. So I went back inside to ask that parent if they could please move their car.
I heard my mom and her friends laughing, so I stuck my head into that room to catch the tail-end of their laughter and to tell them we were about to leave. My mom said she’d walk me out and say bye to all of us. We went to the front yard, and found that they had already left.
I blinked. No way. They wouldn’t have left without me? Huh? My brother… he was one of the ones going… surely he would have noticed I wasn’t in a car…? I though I was supposed to drive a group? What? And, and, and the guy I liked, he was here too. And he forgot about me just like the rest of them.
I swallowed. My mind raced in confusion and hurt as my mom huffed with anger behind me. “I can’t believe they left you!” She grunted. She reached in her pockets, “Where’s my phone. I’m calling Kyle.”
“No, Mom,” I whispered, “It’s okay.”
“It’s NOT okay. They need to come back and get you!”
“Mom, they won’t have room in their cars. They must be stuffed all the way in. I was supposed to drive some.”
“You could take your car?” She suggested.
I shook my head and pointed. Someone’s car was still blocking my car in the garage. “I don’t wanna ask and see whose car that is. I don’t want to make a big deal that they all left me.” My tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth as I uttered those words.
My mom called Kyle anyway. My brother had no idea that I was left behind. He apparently told the guy I liked, who was driving him and three other people, because a minute later I got a call on speaker phone from the guy I liked.
“We could come get you?” He said.
“Caleb, there isn’t any room in your car,” I said softly.
He paused, “We could bring you back ice cream?” he offered.
I shook my head even though he couldn’t see me. “Don’t worry about it.”
It was very sweet of him to make the offer, but I didn’t want ice cream. I just wanted to hang out with my friends… although it was occurring to me that maybe they didn’t even want to hang out with me.
I wish I could tell you that I went back into my house and played the games that my parents and my friends’ parents were playing.
But I didn’t. I went into the back of the house and hid in my mom’s closet like I was 11 again and cried my eyes out.
Once I was out of tears, I still didn’t venture from my hiding place. I stayed put and read an eBook on my phone, wishing that everyone would just leave.
My mom came to get me once all of my “friends” got home. But I didn’t come out. I didn’t want to see them and I certainly didn’t want them to see my tear stained cheeks and know how much they had hurt me. I was still upset, sad and mad, and I wanted to stay hidden.
After I had been hiding for two hours total, everyone finally left. Everyone, that is, except for Caleb. He really wanted to see me to make sure I was alright. Hesitantly, I ventured from my mom’s closet to go see him before he left. He was very apologetic and said how sorry he was that I had been left. I knew he meant it, but I still felt sad that the whole situation had happened.
I wish I could tell you that after that I went on with my night and went right to sleep since I was exhausted.
But I didn’t. I continued crying after Caleb left because I felt absolutely horrible that all my friends had left me.
Satan started whispering lies in my ear. Telling me that all of my friends didn’t care about me. That since they didn’t miss me when they went to get ice cream, they wouldn’t miss me if I just dropped off the earth. If I died, nobody would care.
Thankfully, my mom came to check on me and found me wailing on the floor of the room, muttering lies about nobody caring about me if I died. She hugged me and proclaimed God’s truth over me. After a while, I finally calmed down and went to sleep.
Moral of the story: Kara did not handle that well.
My friend, if you’ve felt left out by your friends before, believe me when I say I get it.
I know the awful, gut-wrenching feeling that comes with the realization that they forgot about you. The wonderment that plagues your mind as you try to figure out if they accidentally forgot about you, or if they purposefully left you out because they don’t want you there.
Being left out by your friends, or people you thought were your friends, is really, really hard. And I’m so sorry you’re going through it.
From reading the above story, you know that I struggle with handling this well. But, I have learned from that experience and many, many, other similar circumstances and I have some suggestions for you.
What to do when you feel left out by your friends…
In the above story, you see that prayer is missing from the sequence of events after my friends forgot about me. That’s because I didn’t pray. I was too hurt, too mad, too upset to pray. And because I didn’t pray, I ultimately felt worse.
I don’t recommend following my example here. When you feel left out by your friends, pray. Cry out to God. Voice your hurts and frustrations. And find true comfort in Him.
“Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” -Psalm 55:22 ESV
2. Write it out… and then burn it
It helps me to write things, especially when I’m upset.
So when you’re processing the hurt of being left out by your friends, write out all the hurts, your frustrations, and your pain.
But then don’t keep that piece of paper or that journal entry. Burn it. Otherwise, years down the road after all of this passes, you’ll stumble across that paper and feel hurt all over again.
3. Don’t assign intent
My senior year of high school stunk for me friend-wise, but that’s a whole other long story. One time that spring, I was in the car with my mom and I started telling her about all the ways my friends had hurt me and left me out.
I don’t remember what all I told her, but I remember at one point she looked at me and said, “Kara, don’t assign intent.”
“In your head, don’t assign intent to their actions. Don’t think, ‘They didn’t want to be partners with me for that project because they hate me,’ or ‘They didn’t include me in prom-plans because they don’t like me’. You don’t know why they did those things or what they’re thinking. So don’t assign intent.”
It can be so easy to assign intent to people’s actions when they hurt us!
But the thing is, when we assign intent we’re causing ourselves to believe that our friends hurt us on purpose. Sometimes, people hurt us accidentally because they’re sinful humans just like we are.
So don’t give a reason to their action unless they’ve specifically told you, “I did this because…”
4. Forgive them
This one is hard.
Trust me, I know how hard it is to forgive your friends when they deeply hurt you. It can seem impossible.
We often harbor unforgiveness in our hearts because we think unforgiveness in a weapon against those who hurt us. That it’ll keep them from hurting us again and maybe it’ll hurt them back.
Both of these thoughts are lies. The only one who our unforgiveness hurts is ourselves.
Even though it’s hard, we are charged by God to forgive those who hurt us. Even if they’re our friends.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” -Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)
It wasn’t easy for Jesus to die on the cross so He could forgive us of our sins against Him. Jesus never said forgiveness was easy. So we can expect it to be hard. But, it’s something we have to do to follow Jesus’ example and to help rid our hearts of the yucky-ness caused by their hurting us.
“If anyone has caused you pain… you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to affirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything… so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.”
-2 Corinthians 2:5, 7-9, 11 (ESV)
I wrote a whole post about forgiving and comforting those who hurt us, so if you’d like more on this topic you can check that out. :)
This has turned into a very long post, so I’m going to wrap it up.
In conclusion, feeling left out stinks, but there are four things we can do to help us more forwards.
- Write it out
- Don’t assign intent
This post topic idea was dropped in the Joy Because Grace post suggestion box. To my anonymous friend, thanks so much for your suggestion!