Pain with a Purpose

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Sonia Cleverly shares how to encourage a child facing disappointment and rejection.

Today we are reasonably certain our son will discover he did not make the school soccer team. Today he will have to stand in front of his classmates and look at a list for his name that will most likely not be there. Today will be the first time he will truly experience rejection—publicly.  I feel physically ill.

Reason one, we think we are right about what will happen today… He is a gifted soccer player, but it just hasn’t been his season. Classic slump. Reason two is far harder to accept… It seems the team roster was essentially decided in advance. Classic injustice.  Some of the other boys also in this position asked their parents if they could just leave the tryout tournament. Our son didn’t—he knew what we would say. Ask humbly again to be put in the game. Respectfully accept the response. Cheer for your friends. Don’t let it define you. Finish strong.

We feel the weight of each of the tryout’s 180 minutes. Finally, my husband takes the keys and I climb into the backseat of the car, letting my son cry on my shoulder. Moms are good like that.  I muster every ounce of strength not to cry, too.  He needs me to empathize with the injustice.  But really he needs me to find him some hope.  When the worst of it is over, I take a deep breath, ask Him for words to say to my hurting child—my heart walking around outside of my body—and I speak.

I tell him who he is.  He belongs to Jesus and he belongs to me and to his father.  This is permanent.

I tell him what he is made for. His pain will be worked out now or later for a great purpose—maybe he will get to see it; maybe he won’t. This was determined even before the world was formed by a sovereign, just, loving God.

I tell him where he is going.  This brief moment is a mere stepping stone in his journey.  The ultimate result will be a life filled with loving Christ and loving others.   A life such as this requires great character—faith, integrity, courage, discipline, poise, endurance—yes, today had an opportunity for all of that.  God is good, all the time.

We finish by going over the words he will say to himself when he has to look at that roster missing his name, practicing congratulations for his friends who did make the team, recalling Scripture that will help him never lose faith in the God holding his hand through this and everything else.  Then, his dad takes him outside and they play catch.  My husband builds him up using so very few words, but in an equally powerful way.  Dads are good like that.

Now he is as ready as he will ever be to face today.  In a few weeks this will be forgotten.  But one day we know the hurt may not be so fleeting.  Someday it may be the loss of his job, the deep valley of a failing marriage, the overwhelming fear for a sick child.  He will need everything we hope today’s ordeal will provide.  This present trial really has such significant insignificance.  Lord, please let him always know who You are even when he doesn’t understand what You are doing.

And when our son boards the bus this morning to take on the day, my husband holds me as I finally let the tears flow.  Husbands are good like that.

 

Written by Sonia Cleverly 

 

 

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