He burst from the belly of the yellow school bus, a bundle of energy confined to a tiny package. His hazel eyes sparkled as his gaze met mine, eager to share the details of his day. He sprinted in to my waiting arms, and together we embraced in a hug, sealed in our own private moment as children poured from the bus behind us.
We emptied the contents of his backpack meticulously as he shared with me that in gym that day, the children raced each other and he won. His sandwich container was immersed in warm, soapy water as he shared with me his favorite subject, math, and how the teacher was currently teaching them how to count by tens. Pieces of a half eaten granola bar and an empty fruit snack package tumbled in to the mouth of the trash can as he explained to me how a boy, a child who he thought was his friend, ignored him on that day. He explained that at recess, when the children were set free by their teacher to play, the boy in question ignored the calls of my son, who trailed behind him. His voice was noticeably uneven as he described his confusion. My hands immediately discarded the task at hand, setting down his lunchbox as I heard my son say that this boy, along with another boy in their class, began to call my son names, before running to another part of the playground, leaving me child broken and alone.
I grabbed him in an attempt to soothe his heart, to repair the damage these two children had inflicted. Sensitive by nature, my son is the first person to offer a compliment on a day when he can tell another person is so desperately seeking affirmation. He has rubbed my back and consoled me many times when the stresses of the day have proven to be overwhelming, and held my hand as tears have traced my cheeks. I have always loved how sensitive and gentle he is, and yet, the same quality that I so much admire in him others, such as this child and his friend, have taken advantage of.
As we hugged, my son breathing in the freshly laundered scent of my shirt, I explained to him a truth that I wish he did not have to learn this soon.
In life, we are not going to be liked by everyone we encounter. Certainly, we can try our best to be individuals that in our interactions with others leave the people we come in contact with enjoying our presence, yet even the best person cannot be liked by some. We have different life experiences that mold and shape us in to the people that we become, and since these experiences can be so vastly different, there is the potential that our experiences, opinions and beliefs do not always agree with each other.
He nodded as I explained to him that unfortunately, the boy who he wanted to be his friend may only be another classmate, and smiled when I gently ran my hand across his blond hair, letting him know that in my eyes I thought he was perfect.
I saw her post on social media today. I did not hear her voice, and yet I could tell in the words she choose to accompany the post that sadness weighed heavy on her heart. I have seen many of her posts over recent days, and I can tell that she, like my son, is feeling left alone, confused as to why her efforts are going unnoticed and under-appreciated. She feels as though she extends so much of herself for others, and I can tell in the way that she speaks of her present situation that her worth is compromised. She is questioning if there is an aspect of herself that makes others feel as if she is not worthy of their acknowledgment.
A familiar lump formed in my throat as I explained to my husband how that particular encounter I had with another individual made me feel small, a meeting that at the end had my brain reeling in a tornado of aggravation and self doubt. I had tried, so many times before to ignore the behaviors of others that I knew would affect me personally, and yet, I found myself again being brought to tears by someone who made me feel less than.
Friend, it is so difficult when we are faced with a situation that makes us feel that we are not worthy of love or proper treatment to believe these words and feelings. We feel as if we are not capable nor deserving of love, attention or acknowledgment.
Friend, I want to remind you, with the words I used to comfort my son, of this.
You are worthy.
You are worthy of surrounding yourself with others who appreciate the type of person you are, and love you for the qualities you possess.
You are worthy, of acceptance. You are worthy of being treated as an equal. You are worthy of having your efforts not only recognized but applauded.
You are worthy of being treated as a person, and not as a child. You are worthy of your opinions. You do not have to explain yourself to others who would rather not hear your words. You deserve to be happy.
Friend, in those moments that you find yourself questioning your worth, remember this. God created you in His image, perfectly flawed, and He loved you still. Even when you feel as though others do not love you, remember to love yourself. That is the greatest gift that you can ever receive.