Have you ever been left out?
Sure you have. If you’ve survived middle school you’ve been left out.
I actually have vivid memories of being left out at a much younger age – elementary school. It typically revolved around the picking of teams for Red Rover, dodge ball or kick ball. I was a pretty scrawny kid, skinny, no power, no coordination – an overall glasses-wearing spaz-ma-taz who hoped not to be the last one picked – again.
But I was usually picked last, over and over. Left out, yet again. And being left out doesn’t stop in elementary school for sure. Once you get into middle school that’s when kids really get mean for some reason and it’s almost a sport to see how many kids the “cool kids” can leave outside the circle, watching the outsiders as they hope for an invitation to become part of that coveted group.
High school – isolation can intensify, for sure. Fortunately by the time you hit this age high schools usually have a whole bunch of opportunities to find a group to belong to, whether it is with the band, basketball team, math team, ambassadors, debaters, etc. But thank you, social media for showing kids what they aren’t a part of as much as what they are.
And then off to college where mommas and daddies drop their kids off with half a room worth of their stuff (actually it’s their entire room from home crammed into less than half the space they have at home) and for the most part feel good about where they’ve left them, hoping and praying for the friends who are sure to come, groups where their kids will find acceptance.
Can I just say being left out doesn’t end in college? Hate to burst all the bubbles of all the mommas (and daddies) of high school seniors, but going to college doesn’t guarantee acceptance. In college I went through a period of being tormented by someone for reasons I didn’t even understand at the time. And the more I talk to parents of college students, the more I hear that this phenomenon still exists and happens to even the most popular, the most handsome, the most athletic, etc, etc…
And we, as parents can become so desperate to see our children be happy and have friends and be accepted that we can fall into one of satan’s biggest and worst traps he can set. We become so desperate for (fill in the blank – friends, acceptance, etc) that we are willing to accept whatever satan puts in front of us.
In other words, we become so desperate for earthly happiness we are willing to accept less than God’s best for their lives.
Think about it. How many times have you made a snap decision because it solved a short term problem? Have you been more accepting of certain kids that you know aren’t trying to live godly lives just so your kid will have friends?
I’m guessing as parents we’ve all done it. Let’s just be real – if we are really honest we’d all rather our kids have some friends than no friends. Now I don’t mean you give junior a kiss as he heads out to the weekly satanic ritual, but we find ourselves excusing behaviors, making up reasons for this or that when really, honestly, we just want our kids to belong – because we want to belong and we know how it feels when we don’t.
What a dangerous place we find ourselves in, because decisions made in desperation have long-term and potentially devastating consequences.
One of my constant prayers for my children is that they will know their identity is in Christ, not in their friend group, not in their academic achievements or their sports accomplishments. That’s not to say I don’t pray for all of those things, but we have to spend more time praying over their character than over their – and our – earthly desires.
Colossians 3 is a great chapter of Scripture to read if you are struggling with this issue, as I think all parents do from time to time. This verse seems to sum it all up however: “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2) When we set our minds on Jesus, on the eternal, we are equipped to make better decisions because we begin to see situations as God sees them.
Don’t be so desperate for things of this world – especially where your children are concerned – that you fall into satan’s trap and miss what God has planned for them.
And remind your children of this truth: “And you are also among those who are called to belong to Christ Jesus.” (Romans 1:6)
Yes, they have a place. Yes, they belong. And that’s truly the only group that matters.