Today’s post by Angela Oberg is one most of us parents can relate with – the sense of rejection that’s felt when your child is rejected. Or maybe it’s the same sense of rejection an author feels when their book is rejected. Or a worker’s effort.
The game was about to start. I looked out over the field and did not see her. I looked over at the sideline, and there she sat, on the bench. Again. It wasn’t that she did not get playing-time or was not good at the game, she was. Even so, this soccer season more often than not, my daughter seemed to start the game sitting on the sidelines.
As an adult I have learned how to deal with rejection, or so I thought. However as I saw the potential for rejection start to unfold for my child, I was not about to sit on the sidelines. It took everything in me to stay in my seat and not stomp over to the coach and demand he put my daughter in the game. Just as I was about to pull myself up out of my fold-up chair, I saw my daughter come out on the field.
As I later shared this experience with a friend, she listened thoughtfully and then was kind enough to confront me with some truth. She suggested, “Maybe this is not as much your daughter’s struggle as it is your own.” She was right; I had allowed my fear of rejection to affect how I parented. I wanted to protect my children from any experience that hinted of rejection. And in middle school and high school there are plenty of opportunities for this; team tryouts, clothing choices, relationships with friends, just to name a few.
I remember one instance specifically; it was a conversation I had with my older daughter. She shared with me some difficulties she was having with a friend at school. I asked some questions and in my questioning without realizing it, planted seeds of doubt and insecurity which only moments before were not there. Rather than help my daughter navigate her friendship struggle there and then, I allowed my past experience to color her experience in a way it should not have.
As I continued the conversation with my friend, I knew that to help my children navigate fear and rejection; I needed first to be free from my own. Only then could I help them objectively, my past no longer affecting their present. My friend graciously suggested we pray, and as we prayed, I could feel those old feelings of fear and rejection slowly slip away.
Later that day, standing by the sink doing dishes, I thought about how I want to live the opposite of rejection, and how I want to parent there too. I went in search of the word opposite rejection, and when I found it I could not help but smile. The word was acceptance.
At our church once a year, every individual (who wants to) can go front to the stage and pick an envelope containing a card with a word on it. These words at first for many may not always make sense or carry much meaning, yet sometime during the year, the word usually finds its way into our hearts.
Can you maybe guess what my word was, this particular year?
You can check out Angela’s blog HERE.