Isn’t it funny how so many simple things, like a smell, a specific phrase or one word can invoke a memory?
This just happened to me. I was reading a devotion, here on the morning of the five year anniversary of my father’s death, when a word jumped off the page and instantly played a film in my head about a 12 year old me who experienced her first, very real, introduction to rejection.
This is not about my father rejecting me, but about him rescuing me, just as our heavenly Father does.
“Come to Him—the living stone—who was rejected by people but accepted by God as chosen and precious.” 1 Peter 2:4 The Voice
I was trying out for my first ever select soccer team. This was the club to be in and I wanted to be on that team more than anything. As part of the tryouts, I played on their indoor soccer team. I did very well, even having the honor of being the team’s leading scorer. How could I not make the team after this achievement?
When the coach called me to tell me I indeed did not make the team, I was devastated. I did not understand how this was possible. I remember my dad, who didn’t understand either, calling the coach to see if he could get an answer to this mysterious why.
He came into my room and told me that he thought the reason I didn’t make the team was because of him. My dad had already been a somewhat successful assistant soccer coach in the area, but I didn’t understand what that would have to do with me. My dad did not elaborate on this reasoning of his, and I didn’t ask him to elaborate. Besides, no amount of reasoning would make me feel any less rejected.
The next thing my father did changed me from a young girl feeling completely rejected to one who was invited to be accepted, loved and to have one of the greatest times of her childhood. He offered to coach a team for me. (Side note: he would continue to coach me for years)
He started a team for me, one made of a couple girls like me who had experience, but the majority were ones who had never played before. Looking back, I remember how much he believed in each and every one of these girls, coaching them to become good soccer players. He gave all of us rejects – rejects from other teams, rejects from other sports, rejects from social classes, the list goes on – a place to belong.
That sense of belonging, not wanting to feel rejected, is something we will always have. I am so happy my father gave me that place, but I am overcome with joy in knowing that we have a wonderful, beautiful, loving and compassionate heavenly Father, who welcomes the least of us, the lot of us misfits, into His loving arms.
In Him, and with Him, we will always belong.
But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine. Is 43:1
This piece is dedicated to my dad, the world’s greatest soccer coach and to all the members of that wonderful team of misfits back in 1985 – Paradise Valley Sting.