I was at church a few weeks ago and something very common (for me) happened again. I was standing in a group of people and we were chatting. The group of people on my left all had the same thing in common and the people on my right all had the same thing in common. So, naturally, the two groups break off and I’m left standing there not in either group. I haven’t been kicked out, of course, but I’m also not fully welcomed. Has this ever happened to you? This isn’t my first rodeo. I sit back and wait for it to end, for topics to change back to something I can relate to, for someone to notice me standing there and ask me a question, etc. when something very uncommon happens to me.
Have you seen Lilo and Stitch? Lilo is a cute little thing. Adventurous, creative, imaginative, bold. Lonely, isolated, rejected, misunderstood. I am Lilo. I’m sure that there are times in your life where you feel like Lilo, too. When I was a kid people used to say, “Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I might as well go eat worms.” It was very dramatic. But there are times when it feels very true. And it’s true, Lilo had “friends” who were very mean to her. They didn’t understand her, didn’t think she was cool, couldn’t relate, so they were mean. But, Lilo had her sister who understood her, who loved her unconditionally, who wanted the best for her. Lilo did have someone so encourage her creativeness, imagination, and adventure-seeking heart.
Lilo didn’t lose her faith, her belief that somewhere out there was someone else who thought like her. Enter Stitch. Someone trained not to love, ends up loving this little girl who feels like she can’t be loved. Oh my gosh, I’m crying again. It’s so beautiful.
See, things like my church experience happen to me and I feel alone, isolated, rejected, and misunderstood. I wish I had a pickle jar and spoons to pretend they are the things that frustrate me so I can shake them up and say, “My friends need to be punished.” Hopefully, I’m not the only one who feels this way.
But, something happened to me at church that was not common. Something to remind me that I am not alone. I am not isolated. I am not rejected. I am not misunderstood. At least not by the One who matters. I’m standing there, as the two groups break off and I don’t feel upset. I stand smiling glad that my friends are enjoying conversation and are able to catch up. And then it happens. The music that was softly playing in the background starts to break through to my ears and I feel like something is pulling me back, not physically, but as in a dream where the things around you become small and distant, even though you haven’t moved. And it’s the song “Communion” by Maverick City and Jesus is saying, “I’m here. I love you. I see you.” The lyrics say, “You are closer, closer than my skin/ You are in the air I’m breathing in/ Here’s where the dead things/ Come back to living/ I feel my heart beating again/ Feels so good to know You are my friend.”
So, you can feel like Lilo. People on this earth can disappoint. But, don’t let that shut you off from your Best Friend. And don’t let it shut you off from love. The one who created you loves you more than you’ll ever know. He’s never far. He’s everywhere. He’s inside you. Beside you. Around you. In you. All-the-prepositions you.
Also, it’s good to remember that Lilo ends the movie with more friends than she dreamed of. She ends the movie on top of the world. She ends the movie with people who understand her and love her and motivate her. And she didn’t have to change who she was to get those friends. She just had to change where she was looking for her validation.