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Who's In, Who's Not?

Bet you’ve heard it. Maybe even chuckled at it the first time you did. “You can pick your friends. You can pick your nose. But you can’t pick your friend’s nose!” Ah, choosing. We love it, don’t we? Unless perhaps we are in the position of being chosen. Or not. Do you remember that dreadful process of picking teams for kickball? Or asking someone to a dance? And then there’s homecoming court, a part in the play, applying to colleges, being interviewed for a job, that agonizing thrill of dating, and “do I move on or do I stay?” Choosing and being chosen. Or not. Ugh.

It's so much easier with clothes. We ask ourselves, do I like the style? The fabric? The color? Does it fit? Is this within my budget? We either whip out our wallets or we don’t. It’s way more challenging with people. People are not inanimate. We humans are complex, dynamic, multifaceted, and willful life forms. So, yes, we can pick our friends. Unless we have some sense that they picked us. Or were given to us. Or were mysteriously dropped into our lives. However we understand the connections we form with others, they are both connections and formed. It is as if we spin webs around us, hanging on to this person but letting that one go. And considering the webs of our relationships, the question is always, who’s in and who’s not?

It's easier when it feels good to us. We feel appreciated. We know in our bones we are accepted. Others listen to what we have to say. Maybe even ask us for our thoughts. It’s comfortable. There’s some common ground on which to stand. It is more challenging to find ourselves in groups of people not entirely of our own choosing. Some rub us the wrong way. We secretly wish a certain person would drop out, disappear, not come back around. Someone annoys the tar out of us. Another one seems to invalidate everything we say. It’s uncomfortable. If our hackles don’t raise up our insecurities do. We wonder who decided that person or those people could be included?

Groucho Marx famously quipped, “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” Go ahead. Think about that for a moment. A group, an organization would choose you which should inflate your ego a tad. Yet, you question whether the acceptance is genuine. Whether you will really fit in. What the motivation for including you really is. Did you choose or were you chosen? And who else is in? Who’s not?

Perhaps another question to consider about the webs of our relationships is, do they support us or strangle us?


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