Yesterday I found my middle school daughter crying. At first I thought she was upset because I asked her to help me in the kitchen. When I asked what was the matter she said that she felt like everyone else was better than her at sports and physical activities and that this made her feel like she didn’t fit in. Instantly I felt for her because I went through the same issue when I was in school.
Just short of 12 I know my little girl is starting to feel emotions that frustrate her and sometimes don’t make sense. First, I had to apologize to her for not being able to inherit great athletic ability to her. Then I asked her if anyone makes fun of her because she isn’t great at sports. Thankfully, she is having a much different experience than I had – none of her classmates make fun of her for her lack of athletic prowess. I asked her if she has given up trying to improve to which she said no. I commended her for her endurance despite her frustration. It was a relief that she said she was well liked by her peers despite this perceived failing. Finally, I had to remind her of something important.
She IS much more than she is not. None of her classmates can match her academic record, her kindness, her compassion and her fear and love for Jehovah God. She is different from her peers in ways that may make things awkward at times, but the way she chooses to deal with that stress will ultimately determine how successful she is at making friends, being loyal and being responsible as an adult. The athleticism that she so desires will become little more than a footnote in an otherwise rich life filled with love, generosity, courage and kindness.
That’s what we all have to remind ourselves of at times. We are so much more than we are not. If we measure ourselves by what we are incapable the weight of the pressure will crush our hearts and souls. Unfortunately, when we see ourselves through the eyes of critical people (even our own critical, jealous eye) it can make us feel like we are nothing or useless. If we keep trying our best in everything we do we are never nothing.
There is someone who only sees me for what I’m not. Even when things seem to be going well and I’ve worked really hard they see only what isn’t, but rarely what is. They take joy in humiliating me in front of others. Everything I do reminds me of what I’m not good at. I struggle with my self worth because I’ve been told I don’t contribute anything with my existence. There are times I can’t even do the dishes or fold laundry or sweep the floor without melting into a puddle of tears and wishing I could just vanish from the Earth. I share this because I know I’m not alone. There are others out there who face being diminished every day. The times when it gets more than I can bare I have to get on my knees and pray for solace and help to see what I am, why I’m here and if I am needed by anyone.
It would be wonderful to tell my daughter that things change, but people don’t. They just get older. Scenery changes, but the cruelty remains. At least this time for her the feeling is coming from within instead of being pushed on her from the outside. I just need to keep reminding her that she is my beautiful, intelligent, hardworking, compassionate, darling daughter so that she can remember that she is more than she isn’t.