My daughter Ava recently had an experience that made me feel so sad for her: she felt left out.
I wasn't expecting her to feel left out when she did; in fact, I was actually expecting her to be having the time of life when it happened. But the circumstances just aligned for her to experience that terrible feeling of not knowing where she fit in and feeling all alone among friends.
And I felt so sad about it. I think I felt more sad than was appropriate because I myself know the pain of feeling left out, feeling like no one is interested in talking to you or being with you. And I would wish that she would never, ever feel that feeling in her entire life. I'd want her to always feel confident and happy with herself, ready to offer the wonder of who she is with anyone she's with. But unfortunately, that obviously can't be the case.
So there she was, feeling left out. Her dad started talking to her, and it felt like the lesson he was giving her was a treasure, something that all women should hear and live out. So I'll share it here.
He said to her, when you feel left out, Ava, you should:
- First of all, be happy for the friends around you who have a 'buddy' that they're hanging out with. Your natural tendency will be to want what they have so that you can feel settled, so that you can know your place. You might feel angry at them for having what you don't have. Or you might feel mean towards them because they have what you want, and they're not having it with you. But instead, be happy for them! Be happy they have a friend! You can be happy for someone else when something good is happening to them!
- Second, tell Jesus how you feel. Tell Him you feel sad that you don't have a 'buddy.' Tell Him you don't quite know where to go or what to do or who to be with.
- Jesus will probably first remind you of His love. He'll probably want to settle you in His happiness with you...and He'll want to remind you that your lack of a 'buddy' doesn't mean you're unloved or there's something wrong with you. He'll want to remind you that He made you and He's with you, and you are safe in His love.
- Then He might want you to open up your eyes and look around. He might want you to end up thinking about someone else who doesn't have a 'buddy.' He might want you to care about someone you wouldn't normally have noticed. He might want to help you to talk with someone else. He might have different plans than you do, and you might not have been able to see what He wanted if you had had your usual 'buddy.'
It made both of us think as he talked, how many adults know this? How many of us know to not envy what someone else has, but to be happy for them? How many of us know to talk to Jesus about what we feel? How many of us root ourselves in the Lord's love? And how many of us lift our eyes to what the Holy Spirit wants to do, and follow His creative ways instead of being upset that things aren't working out the way we want them to?
So I wanted to share this little parenting moment in the hopes that you, as well, will be inspired along with our daughter.