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Invitation: I know…it’s not about me, but…

Recently, I received an invitation to a wedding and it got me to thinking about other invitations that didn’t seem as targeted or sincere. It came from a woman I met in a faith group on social media several years ago. We’ve only interacted during group outings.

What impressed me about this particular invitation? It wasn’t offhand, flippant, dismissive or indirect. It was specific, targeted and only for me – it felt sincerely personal. Indeed, my name was printed on the RSVP card, which to me signified forethought and a preference for my presence. Even if I was one of a hundred people invited to her wedding and even though she and I have no independent personal history, the invitation made me feel as if she wanted me present on her special day.  

The not-quite-warm-and-fuzzy kind

Last year, a relative emailed me on Facebook to tell me he was getting married this year and asked if I would attend. I enthusiastically replied “yes”. In the same email chain he told me to “friend” his fiancée. I told him that me friending her was not an appropriate way to introduce his future bride to me or vice versa.

Also last year, a longtime social acquaintance got engaged to a man whom I’ve always thought was a good match for her. At the beginning of this year, when she emailed to share her wedding date and location with me, she wrote, “The wedding is out-of-state[…] if you are able to roll I would love to have you there if you can.”

A few years ago, I received and accepted a much grander invitation that has never settled comfortably with me. It was a request to be a godmother to a former co-worker’s baby. It became uncomfortable because the mother never attempted to set up time with me, her and her daughter together. Babygirl was occasionally placed in daycare in my office building (mom worked at another location) and I would receive a call or email simply stating “your godchild is in your building today.” She was running late or didn’t have time to visit or had already gotten to her office, but I should feel free to meet/visit my goddaughter during the work day. I went down that first day with a great deal of excitement, but the following visits became so awkward that I stopped visiting. The only time I saw that child in the presence of one of her parents was on her last day in the daycare before the family moved to another state. The father arrived to pick her up as I was finishing my final visit. I remember he looked at me with the most judgmental eyes as he said, “Oh, you finally had time for your godchild!”

I responded, “It’s nice to see you with your daughter. Let me get a picture of you two before I leave.”

Earlier this year, a couple I’ve been rooting for years got married. They sent me an invitation to their wedding two weeks before the ceremony – they never sent an invitation, I wouldn’t have thought anything about it. I had heard about their upcoming nuptials earlier that year – we had brunched together after church for a couple of years and even though I attend another church now, word still travels. I had what I thought was a comfortable rapport with each of them separately, together and in larger groups. I would have preferred not to receive an invitation at all than to receive one that made me feel like an afterthought or space-filler.

I am not trying to imply that people need to take me into consideration when they go about planning their lives. But when they do consider me with the intent of inviting me to participate in their lives – as a witness or a guide – I would hope that their invitation is weighted with a sincere desire to see me in that role.

Though I did not respond to the wedding invitation from my former brunch buddies, I did attend the service. They both fussed at me in the receiving line and I apologized for my non-responsiveness.

I ended up friending my relative’s fiancé three months before the wedding because he was not helpful in providing details needed to plan travel to his destination wedding. Despite my efforts and requests to both of them directly to share a meal before the ceremony with the intention of meeting the bride, I did not meet her until after the ceremony when I was called up to take family photos with the bride and groom at the altar. At which point I said an awkward, “Hi, nice to meet you.” Mind you, this was a small destination wedding with less than fifteen guests and I was the only family member on the groom’s side to attend. Needless to say, I didn’t feel welcome by either of them. It was the most awkward wedding experience I’ve ever had.

My experience at my relative’s wedding contributed strongly to my decision to not travel to the wedding of my social acquaintance later in the year. Also, when it came down to the motivation to make the effort, I thought about how the invitation was issued: if you’re able to come, it would be great to have you, if you want that is….

What I’m really trying to say is…

I issue invitations because I want to share an experience with someone. I hope they accept my invitation because they want to share the experience with me in return. An invitation should not be issued based on the availability of the recipient, it should be issued from the issuer’s desire to share their hospitality.

Many invitations I’ve issued throughout my lifetime have been ignored. Having your hospitality ignored is a much harsher feeling than having it declined. But that hasn’t stopped me from issuing invitations – I’ve just become more selective on who I invite into my life and for what purpose.

For example, I purchased my first home last year after living in a studio apartment for six and a half years. While living in a studio, I couldn’t have the dinner parties or Bible study meetings I wanted to have in my home, although I did try a couple of times. Unfortunately my space did not adequately accommodate more than one other person. When I moved into my current apartment I was eager to purchase a dining table that could seat a number of people and set-up a living space that could accommodate overflowing conversation. The best compliments I’ve received about my home have been about how warm and inviting it is.

Every time I think of opening my door to someone, I think about the energy they bring me. Is theirs an energy I want to nurture in my space? That I want to embrace within my hospitality? Is our relationship one that I want to continue to pursue or carry-over into the next chapter of my life? More often than not, the answers have been “no” and I’ve been content to let things be and keep trotting along alone.

There is no honor in inviting someone into a space that is sacred to you when you do not want them there. And anyone who wishes to honor themselves do not want to be present where they are not wanted.

Basically, I didn’t feel as if the social acquaintance had a desire for me to be at her wedding but she felt a social obligation to issue the invitation. Neither did I feel the other two couples desired my presence at their weddings. And that’s fine. I don’t need to be a witness for everyone I know. What is not fine with me is issuing an insincere invitation, because then the onus is on me (the receiver) to figure out what to do – graciously decline or awkwardly appear.


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Note to self: Legacy of today.

Legacy of today.

I’ve been thinking a lot about legacies lately. Life seems to be a waste without someone to share it with and even more so when there’s no one to benefit from your efforts when you’re gone. Sort of makes you want to throw your hands up in the air and stop working. Luckily, that feeling forces you to focus more on today… even if only to avoid being depressed while thinking about an empty, distant tomorrow. What can I do today to enrich others? What can I share with the people I encounter today? 

Photo: The Decision by Lisa Richelle (2014)
Photo: The Decision by Lisa Richelle (2014)
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Excerpt: You Must Believe to Understand

Introduction to The Process of Asking for, Receiving and Giving Love & Forgiveness

[F]or you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.  ~1 Peter 2:9, 11-12

The most difficult tasks involved in writing The Process of Asking for, Receiving and Giving Love and Forgiveness were deciding to whom to address the text and to maintain that focus throughout the book.

My questions to “self” consisted of: Am I writing to the people who love, or to the people who are loved? Am I addressing the repentant at heart, or the unrepentant? Should I focus on those who have forgiven, or those who have received forgiveness? Is this work ultimately for people who believe in God, His Son Jesus and His Holy Spirit, or for those who don’t believe at all?

The answer from “self” was: everyone represents, has represented or will represent each of those characteristics at any given point of their life.

This book is a tool to be used in working out love, repentance and forgiveness issues in human relationships through the examples God has provided. Those relationships could be with parents, siblings, spouses, other family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors or community members. There are many relationships during the course of our lives through which we have to navigate our way. Some of those relationships fail and die because one or both parties involved are unfamiliar with the process of love, repentance and forgiveness. Love, repentance and forgiveness are more than just words that you speak and forget about. Love requires action. Repenting mends the love you hurt. Forgiveness is a loving response to the attack on love. They are all choices. Asking is involved. Receiving is necessary. Giving is the only way each is shared.

The Process of Asking for, Receiving and Giving Love and Forgiveness is a work by a Christian woman who has chosen to purposefully sow into the Kingdom of Heaven. My goal with this book is to speak directly to anyone with eyes, ears and a heart open to see, hear and receive the truth of the Word of God. The majority of Biblical scripture used in this volume is addressed to Believers from the mouths and pens of Jesus and His Disciples.

The Holy Bible is a Teacher’s Manual full of instructions telling Believers (a.k.a. Teacher Aides) how to conduct themselves… and how to show God to other people. Believers are commissioned to teach the world by showing nonbelievers God’s ways through their mode of living and their treatment of others. The Father’s process is very deliberate!

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.  ~ 2 Peter 3:9-10

This knowledge encouraged me to address Believers and nonbelievers alike. My hope is that the Believer will be encouraged, edified and strengthened; and that the nonbeliever will be exposed to a truth they can no longer deny and will begin to pursue.

What does it mean to “believe”?

God’s word is locked. His secrets are hidden. His word does not make sense to everyone. He does not reveal knowledge and understanding to all of Creation. But those He call His children are permitted to know His secrets and understand His ways through His Spirit.

How do you become a Child of God?

You must believe on and receive the One He sent – Jesus Christ the Messiah.

We must have confidence in and be convicted of God’s existence. That’s how we believe. By believing in His existence, we can then believe in His works.

He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize Him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected Him. But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn — not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.  ~ John 1:10-12

Having faith is another way of expressing belief in God. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is the confidence that our hopes will manifest and it assures us about the things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:6 further explains:

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

Again, this may not make sense to a nonbeliever, but then again a nonbeliever wouldn’t be reading this if they weren’t seeking truth. So, if that’s you, keep on reading!

For the Believers, this may be elementary, but a review never hurts anyone. So, you keep reading as well!

Do you believe God?

You acknowledge that God exists, but do you have enough confidence in His existence to obey His Word? To believe God is to accept what He says as true. He doesn’t allow picking and choosing or alternating between a straight walk and a zigzag. If you claim to believe in God, but you do not believe what He says in the Bible (His Word), then you do not really believe God. God and His Word are one. “The Word” is also another name for Jesus Christ. God and Jesus are one. If you believe God, you will believe and obey His Word. If you do not believe what God says directly or through Jesus, it is God Himself you are disbelieving and rejecting. (Yoonu Njub, 1998)

But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him you will have life by the power of His name.  ~ John 20:31

How to become a Believer

If you desire to become a child of God, a Believer, one of God’s chosen people, a member of His royal priesthood and holy nation, then simply do so. All that is required is that you follow His instructions. If you desire to become one of God’s very own possessions and heed His call by walking out of the darkness of the world and into His wonderful eternal light, then you have only to believe in your heart and speak with your lips the words of Romans 10:9-10, and ask the Father to be your Teacher and Guide for everything He wishes for you to learn on your spiritual walk with Him.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on Him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  ~ Romans 10:9-13