“I didn’t get picked last night,” six-year-old Isaiah says.
We’re in the yard, enjoying spring’s break-through day. Zay is sliding into the tire swing that hangs in our old maple, and I’m getting ready to push.
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“We had to pick a partner for our craft. And I didn’t get picked.”
I can tell from the broken flow of his voice that this information comes straight from the heart. I let go of the tire and get eye-level with my boy.
“That’s not a good feeling,” I say.
“No,” he says. His eyes water.
Isaiah and Lonny attended an organized activity last night. I’m not sure why it took all these hours for this hurt to come to the surface, but when it pushes through, I feel it in my own chest. I’ve been there with all of my boys. Mom, I didn’t make the team. I didn’t get invited. I didn’t get the part. And I don’t have to walk too far down memory lane to recall similar circumstances in my own life. I wasn’t asked to attend. Wasn’t asked to help. Didn’t make the invitation list.
Feeling rejected is universal. Something common to everyone who wears skin. Since that first bite of the forbidden fruit, we live in a fallen world and feeling left out is just a part of life. But there in the yard, kneeling by my boy, a hint of spring in the breeze that blows his fine, blond hair, I remember something that we shared regularly in a church that our family holds dear. We’d stand, after Communion, hold hands and speak precious, true words that our pastor had written:
I am totally accepted, fully pleasing, deeply loved, completely forgiven and empowered to live a new life in Christ–because of the cross and resurrection of Jesus.
And the truth rests on me like the spring-day sun.
“Zay,” I say. “God picks you. Always. So much that he sent Jesus. He loves you fully. And he always picks Isaiah. ” I tilt his head so that I can see his eyes. “ He always picks you.”
My son smiles a small smile. I run my hands over his hair and kiss his forehead. After a minute he takes hold of the chains on the side of the swing.
“Push me?” he asks.
“You bet,” I say.
“High?” he asks.
I nod, stand, and pull the tire way back. Then I let it go. He glides through the air.
I can’t always protect my son from the bumps and bruises of life. But I can remind him that he’s deeply loved. Fully pleasing.
And as his laughter rises above the to-and-fro creak of our old swing, I know that it’s enough.