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Thanks for the Invite

Have you ever:

  • not been in on the joke?
  • been picked last for the team?
  • been looked over for an invitation to an event that many around you were invited to?
  • felt like you just didn’t belong?

Many, probably most, of us go through things like this in our youth. We are familiar with that pang that comes when we feel like we are on the outside looking in, like we have nothing to contribute.

We’ve probably all felt it, and might even be feeling it now. Sometimes we feel it even as adults, even in the church. This makes me sad.

With social media such a part of our lives today, the chances that you are going to be “found out” when you exclude someone are pretty good. Even if our secret societies are kept off of social media, people talk — and almost always people who have been excluded do find out they’ve been excluded. And when they find out, it can hurt.

I look at my sisters at church as my friends. Some of them are closer to me than others, certainly, but I love them all and I want them to know I love them and value them and want to get to know them better. I would feel awful if I found out I had inadvertently hurt feelings by not including someone when I could have.

This can be tricky. After all, if every sister in my ward came to my party, we wouldn’t all fit in my house! Besides, some of them don’t know me very well and they wouldn’t care to come anyway, right?

Don’t be so sure.

You never know who might be really needing a friend, a social event, a night away from the kids, the dishes, the roommates, the husband…just away from it all.

So, how do you handle tricky social situations in the church?

I’m not perfect at it, but I do have a few ideas: 

  • Try to invite different people to different events instead of the same people all the time. Get to know people who you might perceive as different from you.You might not really “click” with the person, but at least you tried. And who knows, you might make a great friend this way!
  • If you are going to be inviting a sizable number from your ward, invite everyone in that peer group. For example, a baby shower where you are inviting half the sisters in the ward. In my opinion, just invite all the sisters in the whole ward, or at least all of those in that age group. Those who don’t know the person well won’t come anyway (and if they do – hey! another gift and another friend!), but this way you are certain to not exclude anyone that should have made your list but didn’t. If you need to change your venue in order to make this work or recruit another friend to help with food, at least consider it.
  • Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can happen if I invite everyone?” The answer to that will probably be you won’t have enough space or you’ll run out of food. Then ask yourself, “What is the worst that can happen if I invite 20 sisters from the ward but leave 30 sisters out?” The answer to this one could be much more impactful.

Those are just a few of my thoughts, and in the spirit of inclusion I’d love to hear yours as well!

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • mango leaf April 17, 2013, 7:32 pm

    I think you try to include those who it makes sense and hope others can be grown up about it.

  • pardonmoi April 17, 2013, 8:34 pm

    Honestly, I think it’s dumb to invite everyone on the off chance someone will be hurt if you don’t. No, I wouldn’t invite 8 and leave out 2, but if I can only afford 4, I’m not going to decide to never entertain again. lets be grownups!

  • Angie Gardner April 18, 2013, 5:05 am

    Thank you for your comments. I’m off to work, but briefly:

    1. Even grown ups get their feelings hurt. I think you can’t prevent the feelings (unless you are just the kind of person who really doesn’t care if you are left out), but I agree you can react to it in a grown-up way.

    2. I am not talking about going out with a few friends. I am talking about events that it is likely everyone will find out about but not everyone is invited to.

    I wish I could give more specific examples but I don’t have time right now. Plus, I use my real name and will have to think of something that isn’t recent. Just know that this post, as with almost everything I write, comes from specific experiences that cause me to pause and think.

  • Amy Lockhart April 18, 2013, 12:23 pm

    I think your solutions are spot on. The only thing I would add would be to refrain from posting invites on social media and either send them through the mail, or e-mail. Also avoiding inviting people during church, whether verbally or by passing out invites. This way it is clear that is was a “closed” event, rather than seeming like an open event with a few exclusions.

    While it is true that closed events can still exclude and therefore be hurtful, I think it’s more considerate if it was at least planned and carried out that way. Oftentimes the reason for posting these things far and wide is more for a sense of importance than out of true need to reach people that way.
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…Rushing River of ChangeMy Profile

  • Angie Gardner April 18, 2013, 2:16 pm

    The more I think about it, the more I think social media is at the heart of a lot of it. In most cases I’ve heard of recently where feelings are hurt it’s because they found out on Facebook – either photos have been posted of an event and people have seen that a lot of people were there and they weren’t, or people will post something about an event on a friend’s wall and a mutual friend will see it.

    I know you aren’t on Facebook, Amy (I’m still trying to win you over to the dark side lol) but I really love it in many ways. It has been so much easier to stay in touch with my family and friends this way, and even to make new friends. But we do need to be so careful about how and what we communicate there. I have written about that before.

    I really like your suggestions. And I do think there is a time and place for “closed” events (we often invite a family or two over for dinner, dessert, or games), I guess where it starts to cross the line is when enough people are invited that it is sure to “get out” and some people aren’t invited.

  • Amy Lockhart April 18, 2013, 4:25 pm

    You are funny. You know I really don’t think Facebook is evil. I have seen evil come as a result of it, but it all comes down to how a person uses it.

    Honestly, the reason I have not joined the masses has everything to do with my own inability to have a real life balance. I get easily and seriously sucked in and before you know it I have no self image left because everyone else is more productive, prettier, more popular, more involved, more liked, a better homemaker, a better mother, a better wife, has a career and family and I don’t; and on, and on, and on, and on. I just don’t have the time for that sort of self-inflicted nonsense.

    We all have our demons :)
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…Rushing River of ChangeMy Profile

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