(Still remembering and celebrating 33 years of marriage)
There’s nothing worse than being young…. and being the last picked.
When you have buck-teeth, wear high-top shoes because you have flat feet- before high top shoes are cool and your dad doesn’t live with you because he got tired of it – you feel like you come in last –every time.
When you can’t find the phonics lesson on the worksheet in second grade and math doesn’t make sense – you feel like you come in last – every time.
When your thesis director in graduate school dumps you because he feels you have no creative ability and you make careless mistakes – you feel like you come in last – every time.
When your kid, who you’ve poured all within you, prayers, squats for discipline, encouragement – everything you always thought a good, loving parent was supposed to do says, “You’ve set me up to be a failure. Deuces” – you feel like you just came in last.
When you gain some weight and can’t fit into your favorite clothes, I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve come in last.
When the publisher says, “We love it. Send us all you have” for your children’s book – and they get bought by a bigger publisher (Random House) who says, “We don’t know how to draw wind” – I went from first place to rock bottom last.
This morning, my 15 year old drove down the mountain. A fresh driver, careening a bit to the right edges – and my struggle with auto-terror won over my desire to be supportive-encouraging mom – and I gasped, “Jesus Help Us.” As my son careened and steadied, I both encouraged and flipped-out – and I felt like I’d come in last.
There’s a lot of last-place moments in my life. Situations that seem to whisper, even shout, “Failure. Loser.” They don’t define me though – those last place moments.
They are just moments that set up God’s greatness.
Jesus told us, “So the last will be first, and the first last” (Matt 20:16)
We see that with Rahab, Naomi, David, Mary Magdalene, Zacchaeus – so many people in last place, due to their own choices – though maybe those seemingly bad choices were all that was available, still they were brought to blessing by God.
Sometimes you can’t get first-place positioning without having last place experience.
Braces got rid of my buck teeth, my feet slipped into a little blue cotton sandal, and in the midst of it all, I found a Father who championed me against the mockers- and I bask in God’s favor.
I couldn’t find the phonics lesson, but I read and read and read (my defense mechanism against people on school buses making fun of the little buck-tooth girl in high-top shoes) – and it wasn’t too long in second grade I was moved to the advanced reading class – and I basked in God’s favor, the little girl who’d found Him in a closet and talked to Him in her back yard.
The Dean of the Graduate school called the English Department, telling them, “Best creative thesis I’ve read,” followed by Honorable Mention in the Sigma Tau Delta English Honor society’s creative publication the same semester. Charles Dickens responded to a man’s request to view his manuscript to determine if he had creative ability. Dickens replied, “For all I know, the land is yours by right” – More than the land being mine by right – I basked in God’s favor.
The book publisher, the irate son of my prayers, the closet full of too-tight clothes – and the inability to always control my terror – He knows the desires of my heart, the love in my heart. He knows my weaknesses, my failures, my miss-its – He knows my heart’s intent, its integrity – and, though the humanity of myself fails – Jesus intercedes in my behalf – and I bask in God’s favor.
33 years ago, in a field outside the mule-barn at a college social, two young men picked football teams. Two girls remained to be picked – the last picks for each team. I was one of those two – and the red-headed young man picked me – last. Then picked me for a life-time. I bask in God’s favor.
It is an opposite day paradigm – the business of being last.