The screen shows a very pale man slowly dragging through the street torn clothes and a blank look on his face. We all lean forward to hear him whisper “brains…” There seems to be this obsession with zombies lately. From television to the movies the undead are everywhere. My good friend spent an entire weekend watching a zombie series on Netflix. I don’t mean he watched a couple of episodes, he watched every episode available on Netflix, in one sitting. He was committed to the story. When I knocked on his door he nearly jumped out of his skin apparently he was a little alarmed and fairly sure I was coming to eat his brain. His fear of the undead had been amplified by hours of seeing zombie drama play out on his rather massive home theater system. We were later retelling this story and our other friends chimed in “I am obsessed with that show. I can’t tell you how many hours of sleep I have missed because of it.” Clearly the zombie is currently getting some primetime attention.
I think the end times hysteria comes from one of our deepest human fears. We are afraid of being left out and left behind. From the play ground to the afterlife the idea that we could be excluded plagues us. I think the words we associate with being left out are ” not good enough.” At least I know for myself and my own heart those are the words that I feel whenever I am left behind. I feel my worth is either acknowledged or rejected based on my selection.
That’s the thing, being left behind hurts us at our very core, the place of worth. At our core we are constantly asking if we are worthy. As Christians we ask the question: what if I am not good enough even for God? When I think about why my journey or disappointment has been so hard, I discover that the painful question has risen up in me…am I good enough? Have I been left behind by my friend group as they move into this new phase of life (marriage and kids) because in some way I am not good enough. Have I not become a bride because I am not good enough? Was I not good enough to be chosen? Was I not beautiful enough to be noticed? I think that all my defensiveness and striving are usually trying to guard my heart from those harsh words… not good enough.
Being left behind by your friends causes us to feel like the kid picked last on the school yard. Even as a kid who was very athletic the idea that I would be picked last had me nervous every time teams were selected. I knew that I had athletic skills, but what if the kid picking didn’t know me, or worse what if they didn’t like me. As a people pleaser that was enough to have me sweating the whole time of the play yard draft. I never was picked last, but that never lessened my anxiety around the selection process. As I look around now as an adult the feeling is similar to tiny Sarah standing on a playing field. Deep in my core I am standing with my baseball glove ready to play and not yet selected. So what do you do with that? I think the answer is you play anyway.
That is what this part of my life is about trying to figure out how to play anyway. I think I have spent so many years wondering when I would be picked for the married team that I didn’t have much fun playing the game and learning how to be the best player I can be so that I can one day be a great team player. I think that all of my relationships are redeemed when I think of them as chances to help me become a better team player for the moment when I will marry. All of the ups and downs, all of the pain the story has to be redeemed it has to move beyond feeling left behind. It isn’t easy and I in no way want to suggest that it is. The sting of being left behind never is… but as my good friend always says it is time to help us tell a new story. A story where I am not left behind.