I'm going to start off with a scenario that will be somewhat familiar to most people out there. Imagine you're organising a wedding, engagement party, birthday party or some other kind of gathering. You're all excited and are looking forward to catching up with everyone. Then comes the hard part - you have to work out who is going to be invited to your fabulous event....and who isn't. You want to keep it to a reasonable size and have all of your loved ones there. But when the time of the gathering comes around, you've got a guest list that contains the names of people who in your heart of hearts, you really don't want there. Sound familiar?
I've seen people doing it so many times and I admit that I've done it myself. They know exactly who they want to invite but instead they invite people who they are secretly hoping will decline the invitation. So why invite them in the first place? Here are a number of reasons:
- Pressure from others - "Oh no, you have to invite Sally. Even though she's a pain in the butt and will ruin your special day."
- Guilt - you've invited everyone else and don't want to appear spiteful by not inviting someone.
If you're reading this and have ever come to a social event I've organised and are thinking "I wonder if Sarah actually wanted me there?" - don't worry. Chances are I did - very much. It's usually only a very small minority that I um and ah about.
Why do we do it? Why not bite the bullet and not invite people we don't really want? If they going to ruin the occasion by being difficult or demanding or they've been treating you like crap in the lead up to the event, why risk having a terrible time ourselves for people who don't give a toss about us?
The 'difficult' people who we feel so pressured to invite often fall into one of the following categories:
- Family - they get an invite simply because you share blood but they can cause a LOT of strife. Maybe they complain about the food and venue and try to make it all about them. Or maybe they never bother to see you any other time but expect to get invited simply because they're family.
- Estranged friends - the friend who has been treating you like crap or the absent friend who never puts any effort into the friendship. Then they waltz up and just expect to be automatically invited.
- Partners of friends/family - they get invited simply because they're someone else's partner but otherwise you wouldn't have dreamed of inviting them because they are rude or obnoxious.
- People who are part of the 'clique' you belong to (e.g. at church) so you feel you have to invite them because you've invited nearly everyone else.
There are two types of people I dread inviting to my parties - 'negative toxic people' and 'drama queens'. Negative toxic people are the type of people who turn up to events in the most dreadful mood and generally ruin your fun and the whole atmosphere with their sulky manner and sullen glares. Drama queens show up to events and try to steal the attention away from the host by making it all about THEM. An example would be single people who turn up to weddings and wail so that the attention is on them instead of on the bride and groom. This really makes my blood boil. For heavens sake, I know it's difficult to be single but for ONE DAY you'd think they could concentrate on being happy for someone else for once!
I want to be the courageous one who only invites who I WANT for once. But I know I won't because someone always says "why haven't you invited so and so?" and then I feel bad.
Why am I discussing this? Well, as regular readers of the Sedshed will be aware - my birthday was last week and I want to have a bit of a celebration in late June (I'm a bit busy at the moment).
I want to only have people I love at my party. As you can read in the Changes and Challenges post, it's been a tough year in some ways and I've had to put up with a lot of 'difficult people'. Here's the question I'm posing to you all - should I invite the 'difficult' people to my party? And by 'difficult' I mean people who have hurt me consistently with their words and actions - not just one errant word.
You might think I'm crazy for even considering it especially after what I've said earlier in this post. But I've been reading a lot in the Bible about loving enemies (sadly even Christian enemies) and doing good to those who hurt us. It's so easy to love people who love me - anyone can do that. My reasons for inviting them would be so that by showing undeserved kindness to them, it might lead them to repentance.
Here are the pros and cons for inviting my enemies to my party:
They might repent and the relationship be restored
The enemies will wreck my party and I'll have a crap time
I don't particularly WANT my enemies at my party. But I want to do what's right - loving them even though it's hard. I'm not sure inviting them IS the right thing to do so that's why I need your advice. I wouldn't not invite them out of spite but rather to protect myself. The mere presence of some people can make me very stressed and I don't want to feel like that at my birthday party (I'm feeling tense now just thinking about it).
What would you do? Have you been in this situation yourself? Please leave some advice in the comments section - even if you want to be anonymous.