Who doesn’t want to be Chosen? It’s the best! You like me! You picked ME!
It’s the core of so many childhood memories:
- Sit by me on the bus
- Pick me for your kickball team (actually, please don’t)
- Sit with us at lunch
- Mom and Dad, am I your favorite?
- Birthday girl, pick me to sit by you
- 6th grade boy, ask me to dance
I went to new schools for 7th, 8th, 9th, and 12th grade. It was rough. So many first days of school with zero friends. So many moments of holding my lunch tray with white knuckles looking out at the chaos of a crowded lunchroom. I skipped a lot of those to hang out and read in the bathroom or library. So much savvy required to know how to look approachable but not needy, confident but not aloof.
I learned “To Have a Friend You’ve Got to Be a Friend.” Which meant learning how to smile, risk eye contact, and invite someone to be my lab partner. It meant learning to laugh at jokes that I didn’t think were that funny, and having extra pens and pencils to loan out when people lost theirs. Sharing gum works, too.
I still remember the faces of the people who were nice to me on my first days in new places. Brooke in California came up to me in 8th grade and said, “hey, you’re new, come sit with us!” and her table of friends all smiled. John came up to me in the hall in 9th grade said, “hey, you’re new – do you know where you’re going? you have really pretty hair.” Ben at the winter youth retreat offered me hot tea and said, “you’re funny. glad you came.” My heart would swell and warm. Hope would ignite. They like me!
I think I might have a hole in my heart about being Chosen. As a kid, I didn’t really understand what adoption was, so I used to daydream about being adopted, imagining the thrill that someone chose me and paid for me to be their very special child. I also had some weird fantasy about being kidnapped, which is creepy, but it speaks to how much I wanted to be someone’s choice.
I’ve been happily married to a great guy for 19 years. I’ve been Chosen! When he asked me out and then kept asking me out long ago, my heart kept doubling in size. Falling in love with him was the happiest season of my life. So much smiling and kissing and goosebumps. We’re still choosing each other. It’s wonderful.
But it’s not an immunization. I still want to be Chosen all the time. I’m starting from scratch here in Georgia. It’s been bleak. We don’t know each other’s names just yet, but the smiling girl with long braids at the CVS pick up window and the asian guy with blond hair at the Target register are my favorite locals right now. We recognize each other and crack jokes. But I don’t think we’re going to hang after their shifts.
I miss my friends back in Wheaton. I don’t know what stage of grief I’m in, but I’m triggered to cry when I remember fun times. It was all so easy. Friends at school drop off, friends at the gym, friends at the grocery store, friends on the sidewalk, friends at church, friends at bible study, my kids’ friends’ parents, my husband’s friends’ wives. Lots of “doing life together.” I felt Chosen pretty much every day.
Our going away party was a jam-packed, hilarious, sweaty, Lip Sync Competition fueled by years of love and lots of booze. I laughed and cried. It was like going to your graduation party and funeral at the same time. An epic love fest.
I gave all that up to accept God’s invitation to move here. It’s going to take a long time to be Chosen again. I’m going to have to get out there and Be a Friend to Have a Friend. Someday soon we will have new friends around our table, our key will be on someone else’s ring, and our kids will have giggly sleepovers. I believe that. But it’s not happening today.
My twins go on their first youth group retreat tonight. My heart is all over the place. Will they be included? Will they have fun? Will other kids seek to sit, bunk, eat, and goof off with them? I have no idea, and I can’t control any of it. At all. I’ve got to release my ducklings into the pond and let them awkwardly paddle away. Will they be Chosen?
What is easy for me to forget, in this hunger for friendship, love, and acceptance, is that I am always Chosen. By God. I am always fully known and relentlessly loved. My kids, too. Maybe this weekend, somewhere between the noisy bus rides, campfire stories, and laughing lunches, their hearts will swell and they’ll hear Jesus say, “I pick you!”
(And I hope they get some good 6th grade friends, too.)
I am unfolding the idea of Surrender throughout the month of October.
Yesterday’s story of Surrender: What I Did Over Summer Vacation
For more about our shared spiritual journey and questions, you can read here: Soul
© Aimee Fritz and Family Compassion Focus, 2015.