Dear boys, Here’s what I wish I had known about popularity
It’s a hard thing. Moving into a community that’s not your own, where everyone knows everyone else. Where the order’s established, the totem pole’s full, and one’s name isn’t on the “right” list.
I know this particular sting, for I’ve felt it. And our sons have experienced it, too. When it comes to popularity, there’s so much cause for pain…but so much opportunity for growth.
Hey. Bring that!
I suppose I could apologize. It certainly wasn’t something we’d planned, exactly, to move to a new place and town. We didn’t know, your dad and I, what challenges it would bring–new schools, new church, new careers. We couldn’t know.
With every move of any kind comes good with some bad. Sweet mixed with sour laced with pain. And grace, if you’ve got the kind of eyes that can see it.
Today, I’m going to talk very simple and plain, and I’ll tell you what I wish I’d know then. And know now about popularity and acceptance and fame, or being “in.”
Guys, here’s the deal. Popularity can never deliver what it promises. It can’t, for it’s based on human opinions. And those change.
The human heart longs for acceptance. Belonging. Inclusion. Companionship. And friends. We need friends.
A wise, loving God created us that way. He placed those desires in our hearts. Made to need.
Oh, yes. We’re made to need, but the trouble comes in when we depend first on others to fill ’em. All those needs.
The thing about favor, guys, is that if it can be earned, then it can also be lost. Write that down.
If you have to perform, have the right name or the money. If it’s not based on love, it’s not real. It won’t last.
You will learn (life will teach you) what the “requirements” are to fit in, get invited, be accepted. If you have to sacrifice your character (rejecting ‘undesirables,’ for instance), it’s not worth it. Resist that, and flee.
And here’s a tip to remember as you’re looking for friends. It’s one I’ve seen often and learned well. Someone who will gossip to you about others will gossip to others about you. It will happen. It’s simply a matter of time. You don’t need it.
This is a lesson I wish with all my heart that I’d learned at your ages and stages…that your self-esteem, your value, your worth are not based on what anyone thinks. Not even me or your dad. See, when we–when any of us–look to humans to determine our worth, we’ve set them in the place that is God’s, and His only.
God is the only One Who sees rightly. All the time, and it’s only His verdict on you that’s trust-worthy. If you’re always popular, always accepted, always included all the time, you won’t need it. Or at least, you won’t feel your need. Need to know it, what God, your true Father, says that you are.
That’s the good in it. Rejection’s not fatal unless you turn bitter. Rejection and loneliness are helpers. You know why?
If the heart that is lonely and feeling it’s need turns to Jesus to get His approval, and friendship? Then that heart will be strengthened, will be grounded in Truth. That’s the heart that has large room for Him. For His Spirit.
And that, my dear boys, is success. That’s full-fill-ment. And that’s the heart that He chooses.
You know, guys, God has a remarkable history of choosing the lowly. The common. The average. The ordinary.
He picks the shepherd boys, the girls of mean station, to be king or the mother of Christ. Yes, He does. And that’s our hope, to be the kind that He chooses. What a hope.
Just one other thing. When you experience rejection, if you’re not always picked, you’ve got opportunity to practice forgiveness. And that’s huge! If you learn this lesson starting out, heading in, then you’re leagues ahead of your parents. We’re latecomers.
Dear sons, I look at you, and I see how He’s working. I feel His mercy and grace. He’s got plans!
Yes, He does. Your Father’s got big plans for you all, and I know His heart, and it’s good. It’s all good.
Meanwhile, as you guys try and fail and get up and go on; as you’re finding your own paths in life, we are praying. And loving. And cheering. And supporting. And present.
You always have all of our love.
Mom (for Dad, too)