5 years ago, my husband and I were spending our first winter in the Midwest. We were invited to a super bowl party by relative strangers. As entered the party, surrounded by our new best friends, I was nervous and incredibly lonely, yet excited. I felt special and included. More than anything I was so thankful that my husband and I weren't sitting alone in our basement, but instead were welcomed and invited to join in the fun.
We've since moved back to Southern California, but that Super Bowl Sunday still sticks with me for several reasons.
I was invited when I most needed and invitation. An invitation in and of itself can be powerful. It communicates worth and interest and value. I want YOU to join ME because you are THAT special. Being invited undoes all those times that you felt left out or uncool or set aside in junior high (or high school or college or last week, even). Never under estimate the power of a simple invitation to repair the heart and restore a sense of worth.
The other reason that particular Super Bowl Sunday sticks in my mind is the conversations I overheard and took part in. Those lovely amazing people, my Midwestie Besties as I lovingly refer to them, had no idea that their topics of conversation and comments would inform my opinion of them, would shape how I felt about myself as a newcomer or how they view those who are differenct than themselves.
It was a great opportunity for me. I remember clearly what those conversations sounded like to a newcomer.
I learned from their example that welcoming someone isn't just about how you treat them, but also how you talk about those who aren't present.
I learned from that wonderful group of friends that including someone doesn't just end at the invitation. Making someone feel loved and welcomed really happens when they show up, when you listen to your words with their ears, when your words and voice and expressions and actions ALL communicate an open invitation, welcoming and accepting everyone with everything you do and are and say.
Let's not miss this opportunity, friends.
Who are we leaving out on Super Bowl Sunday?
Who do we need to invite to the party?
How do we need to change our actions and words to communicate acceptance and love to everyone in attendance? Both newcomers and old friends alike?
I'm not a sports person (I know. GASP). But I AM a people person, a family person. Super Bowl means food and fun and laughter and community. I love it. I love being loved and loving others. Plus,... food.
Super Bowl is a people day, as much as it is a sports day. And someone needs an invitation to the party. So who's it gonna be?