About 20 years ago, I was in a van full of college students on our way to a conference. Someone asked a question like, “If you could go back in time to any point, when would you choose?” (or something like that. Forgive me…I mean, it’s been 20 years.)
My answer: my pre-kindergarten self.
On the first day of kindergarten I learned all the things that were wrong with me:
I was weirdly tall.
I had a weird name.
I chose the wrong shoes.
This was the day after Labor Day 1986…so now we’re really reaching back, but I remember I had gone school shopping with my mom and was beyond excited; I’d wanted to start school since my sister had started two years earlier. We were at the KMart in Havre, Montana and there was a bin of shoes piled high in the middle with two styles of kid sneakers: pink, velcro Minnie Mouse shoes and dark blue, velcro Transformers shoes.
NO CONTEST: Transformers.
Until I wore them to school and learned I had made the wrong choice and kids made it clear by not sitting by me on the “reading carpet”.
That day stands as a before/after marker in my personal history.
And I wore those shoes until they fell apart.
Over the years I’ve often opted to stand out rather than fit in.
It’s a privilege that I can choose.
This week though.
Monday night someone asked me if Larkin was my granddaughter and my life choices flashed before my eyes. I was 39 when she was born, not in my early 20s as is common (in the midwest at least). I was 40 when she was 4 months.
I’ve had occasional thoughts when quickly too tired to keep up with a game or groaning to get up off the floor from playing or crawling with my girl: “Ai yai yai! This is why people have kids in their 20s.”
But that was the first time I felt judged as too old by someone else.
Tonight for the first time in a long time, I was made to feel unwelcome because I’m not “part of the group.”
I’m not in their group.
I’m not in that group either.
Therefore: WHY ARE YOU HERE? You don’t belong.
I was already navigating a stressful situation when confronted in all my
The wound was immediately raw and possible responses roiling in my brain.
I did some yard work to “move through” it and I had the thought, “Is it really worth it to take up this offense?”
Thank you, Lord.
Does it really matter? No.
Did it hurt like hell anyway? Yeah.
So I write to let it go.
I write because I know I’m not alone.
I write to acknowledge that many others experience far worse far more often.
So for me and for you:
You are valuable (even if not everyone values you).
You are important (even if not everyone sees it).
Trust that you’ll find where you belong and where you are valued.
Look for the value in others.
Communicate with kindness first.
I don’t have the right shirt.
I don’t have a name tag.
But I do, in fact, belong here.
I am exactly where God called me to be.