To the one not chosen

Recently, three of my children auditioned for the same choir at school.

When I see the posted list of those accepted, my heart slips slowly to the floor.  I recheck the names once, then twice, and a third time just to make sure there wasn't an oversight.  But nothing changes.

The three walk through the front door from school and hear the news that only two of them are chosen.  Their faces tell me how the by-passing of one makes them all feel left out.  I whisper congratulations in one room, and bind up wounds in another.  I see now how you can belong to the contradiction of both joy and sorrow.

I considered this scenario days before when they were all a tangled mess of nerves.  I wished, I hoped, I dreamed with them.  I looked them in the eyes, and told them how proud I was that they were doing this brave thing.  And no matter the outcome, they had accomplished all that they could to realize their dream.

But here in this space of hurting, my words fall lifeless.  I feel the pain of rejection and loss ringing out.  I've been there too.  In a hundred ways I hear, "I am not enough, because I was not chosen."  And it is not just my child's voice, but the echo of mine that catches in my throat.

How many times have I allowed people to say who I am and who I am not?  When am I going to realize that no human owns that kind of power?  We pull together everything within us to put a brave foot forward, but when our toes get trampled we retreat.  And as we hide in the shadows we hate ourselves for ever thinking we might measure up.

But our worth in not found in contests we win or lose.  It is not calculated by the likes or lack of them on social media.  It is not weighed by numbers on a scale or scores on a test.  It can not be found in the height of the corporate ladder, or the credentials that follow our name.  It is not measured by our spouse, or our lack of one.  Nor in the father or the mother who may or may not have launched us well.

We think we need that kind of acceptance.  We think that makes us somebody, but that recognition will only fill us for awhile.  Eventually we find ourselves hungry for more.  So again we try, we strive, we burn ourselves out to prove that we should be loved.  But we are missing the point.

Again and again, we are missing the point, friends.

The to-do list of accomplishments that says we are worthy was already completed and nailed to the cross.  The world's greatest love story was written in blood by the son of God.  Jesus went the greatest distance to pursue us, and His sacrifice proves that even before we were born we were chosen.  With accepting arms stretched wide He displayed the truth that there is no price too high to pay for our hearts.

I want to believe it too.  I know the pain of hearing the world say I am not good enough.  I have set my worth on goals and fallen short.  I have bared my tender heart and stripped wide my longing soul only to feel the cruel slap of rejection.  And it hurts in those vulnerable places that thrive on the lies I believe about myself.

I hold my child close, willing her to believe the truth.  She is marvelously complex and wonderfully created.  The God of heaven and of earth knows the details of her life, and considers her thoughts precious.   He goes before her and behind her and rests his hand of blessing on her head.  His love does not change by what she may accomplish or by what she may not.   He is forever her constant, persistent, and ever-present source of love and belonging.


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