Recently, I found myself sitting on the edge of a clique I wasn’t part of.
The large group of friends was huddled together, laughing, sharing funny in-jokes, and probably (hopefully) unaware that someone was sitting on the edge, feeling like they weren’t invited to the party.
I always used to think that only kids did this, but it turns out that cliques and parties-you’re-not-invited-to, are kinda common among grown-ups too.
At some point, most of us will have been the one who didn’t get the invite. It’s maybe just been an oversight or someone forgot, but it still sucks. Being on the outside, always does.
I was reading the story of Rachel and Leah yesterday in Genesis 29. Short synopsis; a man named Jacob leaves his home in search of a wife and through a series of lovely coincidences, meets the stunningly gorgeous Rachel…and her sister Leah.
Rachel and Leah were the daughters of Laban, and reading between the lines, though they were sisters, they were very different; Leah had ‘weak eyes’ but Rachel had a ‘fine figure and was very beautiful’.
Both unmarried, Rachel no doubt had an army of admirers flocking about, but perhaps Leah, weak-eyed, wasn’t invited to the party.
In short, Jacob is tricked into marrying Leah first, and then later married his first love Rachel too.
But it’s clear that while he desperately loved Rachel, he merely tolerated Leah.
What followed was years of sadness, bickering and devastation between the two sisters. You can hear it in every haunting word Leah spoke. The Bible says that ‘seeing she was unloved, the Lord opened her womb’. But despite having 6 babies, every word spoken by Leah reveals a deep, loveless sadness within her;
‘The Lord has given me this gift because He can see I’m not loved’. And then later, ‘maybe this new son will finally allow my husband to love me’.
I can only guess at the utter despair she felt, trapped in a loveless marriage, but also having to watch her husband lavish love on her sister instead. Could there be a more miserable way to live?
And yet, if you fast forward down the trail of genealogies, one of Leah’s sons, Levi, although the product of a desperately unhappy marriage, grew up to be a man who feared the Lord. His name literally means ‘attached’ and he’s the forefather of the Levites today.
For Leah, not knowing what the future would hold, perhaps in later life as she watched Levi grow up to be a good man, maybe she had an inkling? Perhaps her desire to be happy, to be attached to someone finally happened. One thing is for sure, in later years, God said of Levi;
He stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity.
We all go through times when we feel like we’re on the outside looking in, it’s a sad and inevitable part of life.
Yet God’s eternal story says that no matter how we feel, if we accept it, we can be attached to the family of God.
The eternal story says God loved ME so much that he died to prove it, that his grace, his compassion, and his mercy, means that even if we’re excluded from a clique, we’re still always invited to His party.