Growing up is so full of challenges. It seems like we get compared from the very beginning of our lives to some standard that is considered “normal” or “good” or “the best”. It starts with the charts used to measure us at birth, but that is fairly benign compared to what happens later.
I think the first time I felt “it” was actually in a Sunday School class in the second or third grade. We were being divided into groups for an activity and each group had a team captain who was choosing those who would participate in his or her group. I was one of the last ones chosen. Yucky feeling, but this experience would not be the last of its kind.
School, Girl Scouts, church camp, and more soon gave me many opportunities to be selected or not selected to be on some team or in some group. I came to dread these times of being assessed for something.
The criteria changed from group to group. Sometimes I needed to be the fastest runner or be able to hit or kick the ball the best. Sometimes I needed to know the most information. Other times it seemed like there was no specific reason for being picked or overlooked. It seemed like I was either liked or not liked.
Little by little this normal part of school and daily life began to leave its imprint on my heart. I was never chosen first for anything and often I experienced being the last one picked. I recall so well standing in the church parking lot during a vacation Bible school week when we were playing the game Red Rover. Of course there were two teams and I waited and watched as one after another were picked for a team. Finally there were only two of us left. I remember so well standing there while the team captains debated on which one of us had to be picked. It was evident to both of us who were left that neither of us was really desired for a team.
Our growing up years keep giving us exposure to this process over and over again. It happens when sports teams are selected. It happens during try-outs for plays and musicals. The process of facing being selected or not gets repeated more times than we can recall.
If we are the “best”, we start to relax a bit more with the process until we realize there is always someone else out there wanting to dethrone us and take that spot.
There are also times we really may not want to be chosen such as when a teacher calls on us and we had not even raised our hand to answer.
We start trying to learn how to shrink and become nearly invisible to skip the whole process.
The process also gains steam because of the whispers in our hearts and heads that we think are from us, but really are tools of the enemy. The whispers tell us many things:
- You’re not good enough
- No one wants you
- Why do you even try
There are other whispers as well, but these give you the idea. These whispers continue to succeed until we discover the secret, the truth.
The truth is this:
Long before our parents, teachers, friends, coaches, or anyone else loved or wounded us, we were intimately loved and chosen.
The enemy of our souls never wants us to discover this secret, his truth, because he knows if we do that he cannot defeat us even when he succeeds in knocking us down.
I love these lines by Henri J.M. Nouwen:
“Every time you listen with great attentiveness to the voice that calls you the Beloved, you will discover within yourself a desire to hear that voice longer and more deeply. It is like discovering a well in the desert. Once you have touched wet ground, you want to dig deeper.”
The secret we have often missed along the way is that the God who created the universe chose us and loved us and it had nothing to do with anything we could or could not accomplish. He chose us to be His own. It was just that simple and yet profoundly complex and beyond our imagining.
If we accept that and allow the depths of that truth to sink deeply within us so that we truly know it, we will run toward Him rather than away from Him. We will also long to sit in His presence and hear His reassuring love spoken into the deepest recesses of our hearts and spirits.
The result: An unshakeable belief we are loved and the needed tools to defeat every lie whispered to or about us.