"You didn’t choose me, but I chose you.” ~ John 15:16
Malik recognized that look. His shoulders were slumped; eyes cast in a mournful gaze. Isaiah’s mouth framed a semi-pout. He kicked a stone along the sidewalk, trying to make some sense of it as he replayed the most humiliating moment of the day.
They’d moved here three weeks ago but his son had not made any meaningful friends yet. And he’d apparently been deemed hopelessly unathletic by a jury of elementary schoolers.
“I didn’t get picked …today at recess,” Isaiah began. “In kickball … when they picked teams, nobody … wanted me on … their team,” he continued as moisture formed on his eyelashes.
Malik could tell from the broken flow in his voice that this information came straight from the boy’s heart. The only thing more difficult than being alone, he thought, was watching your six year old son consumed by a loneliness that seems to rob him of all hope.
Malik felt a sharp pain in his own chest. He’d been there with his other kids too. Dad, I didn’t make the team. I didn’t get invited. I didn’t get the part. And he didn’t have to travel too far down memory lane to recall similar events in his own life - wasn’t asked to attend; wasn’t asked to help; didn’t make the invitation list.
He stepped in front of his son, bending down to get eye-level with Isaiah. There on the sidewalk, a hint of fall in the breeze that blew across his dejected cheeks, Malik remembered something that was shared regularly in a church they attended since moving here.
They stand after Communion, hold hands and spoke these precious words: “I am totally accepted, deeply loved, completely forgiven, and empowered to live a new life in Christ because of the resurrection of Jesus.” The truth aroused him through the whispers of autumn leaves.
“Zay,” he said. “God always picks you. So much that He sent Jesus. He loves you completely. And He always picks Isaiah.” Malik tilted Isaiah’s head so he could see his eyes. “He always picks you!”
The little boy cracked a slight grin. Malik caressed his cheek and kissed his forehead. He took his Dad’s enormous hand into his. “OK,” he said, “race you home?”
And as he watched the boy charge ahead, skipping like a stone bouncing across a glossy lake, his giggles created ripples of mirth for a brighter day tomorrow. Malik knew that was enough.
Feeling rejected is universal; something common to everyone who breathes. Since that first bite of the forbidden fruit, we live in a fallen world and feeling left out is become a part of life. We can’t always protect our kids from life’s bumps and bruises. But we can remind them that they are totally accepted, deeply loved … and always chosen.
Almighty Father, thank you for choosing me and redeeming me. Help me turn my back on worry and crush fear under my feet. Thank you for loving, caring and always believing in me. Amen