Recess Failure

 

Kindergarten was my first exposure to the big, outside world.   Up until then, Sunday school classmates—most of them cousins—at the occasional birthday party and monthly family gathering at Grandma’s house filled my “play-date” calendar.

Playing grocery store, finding another little girl who shared my name, and building anticipation for starting REAL school sums up my memories of that six week adventure outside my safe, secure world.

Off to first grade on the school bus was a little scary, but I was so excited! Until the neighbor boy teased me about the clothes I wore. The safe, protected bubble of my life burst wide open.

After six brief weeks in kindergarten, I barely knew the girls from the other church in town. But it didn’t take long for them to label me “teacher’s pet.”

As long as we were in the classroom, I knew the rules, I followed directions, I had my spot.

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But recess was a torture chamber.  With no sidewalk at home, I’d never played hopscotch, so the girls made fun of me for not knowing the rules. While I knew how to jump rope by myself, I’d never had a chance to practice “going in” while others were swinging the rope.  After a couple failed attempts, the turners lost patience with me and I was made a permanent “turner.”

On the playground, I was a misfit!

Then one day, a couple girls invited me to the “clubhouse” under an outdoor stairway around the back of the school.

“We’ll teach you a new song!” they chimed together. I was thrilled because I loved music, and learning new songs was easy for me.

“Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, think I’ll go eat worms.

Bite their heads off, suck the juice out, throw the skins away.”

Even though the song was disgusting, I needed to fit in so badly that I quickly joined in. Then we each sang it “solo” to prove we knew it.  Since I was the ‘new’ girl, I got to go last.

I HAD this!  I was going to fit in, mastering the initiation—an unspoken, sub-conscious rite of passage.

Until I sang the final note, and everyone laughed at me and scattered off to ‘safe’ areas of the playground.  Unsure of what to do, I soon found out when the recess supervisor scolded me for being was out of bounds.

MISFIT! I slunk back into the classroom, emotionally shredded, repeatedly hearing the words “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me….”

When I first understood that Jesus loved me, I loved Him right back. But that day, His love didn’t feel like enough to heal the wounded heart of a misfit.

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So began a long journey of trying to earn my way, to “fit in.” Even when I was elected as our class queen candidate my junior and senior year, my inner voice told me my classmates wanted to set me up for embarrassment.

Eventually, as a young mother, I ventured outside my church community and met with other young moms.  When I was selected to represent our Dakota area at an international convention, I made the discovery that this group of women not only LIKED me, but they respected me and valued my opinion.

God used that wounded heart to draw me close to Him. But it took decades to realize that He loved my quirks, my bent to perfectionism, and even wooed me back to Himself when I demand my own way against His Word (sin).

As I learn to walk with Him, another song hums in my heart: “Lord, I’m amazed by you and how you love me.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69ZIRAKQ0

When it seems that no one else around me notices that I am there, I still struggle to remember that He loves me.

“There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,
who rides across the heavens to help you
and on the clouds in his majesty.
27 The eternal God is your refuge,
    and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:26-27

And I’m learning to be in His presence, knowing that I am His beloved Misfit.

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