What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Caroline McGraw.
My kindergarten classroom contained 6 tables of varying hues. One day, I decided that table 3 – the one with the royal purple chairs – was the table for me. The 'cool' girls sat at table 3. With the self-confidence of childhood, I asked to sit where I believed I belonged. My memory stops there, so I'm not sure exactly what happened next. But I do know that the answer to my question was a very blatant no. So I walked back to my ugly orange chair at table 6, shame burning my cheeks. That was the day I made some rules for myself. I buried them deep down, where I wouldn't see them or question them. Be really careful with people you admire. Don't assume you belong with them. It's better to pretend like you don't want to sit at their table at all. Fast-forward twenty-odd years. I'm a full-time writer, living my childhood dream. I yearn to form friendships with fellow writers, but the fact is, I'm scared to interact with them. Why? When I listen closely, the answer is simple: table 3. Instead of facing this fear, I've been trying to go it alone. I've been acting as though I don't need support, because I'm terrified that these 'cool kids' will turn their backs. Yet those rules I made back then have nothing to do with reality now. The writers I admire most are nothing like those kindergarten classmates. My present-day peers have offered me so much – real friendship, glowing recommendations, and guest posts. Even so, I fear that I don't belong with them, that I can't be so crazy as to trust their kindness. This is what I want you to know: so many of us have been hurt this way. So many of us are afraid to take a seat at the table. We walk around believing that we're not wanted, that we're not good enough to join in with everyone else. We hang back, fearing the vulnerability that comes with joining in. But now, when I struggle to submit my work and take the risk of rejection, I have a secret weapon. I remember these words by writer and theologian Frederick Buechner: “The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn't be complete without you.” This is what I really want you to know, because it's a truth that has helped set me free: Every one of us has a seat at God's table. All of us belong here. Grace, indeed.