As I looked into the rear view mirror, tears welled up in her eyes.
The previous day, she shared with me a rule change during lunch. The kids are no longer allowed to sit anywhere; they have to sit with their class. Unfortunately, her two friends are in another class. At her old school, a hiccup such as this would have been minor; she knew everyone. At this school, though, she spent her 30-minute lunch eating silently while the girls around her conversed. My shy girl struggles to be the first one to speak to a peer, and so she sat quietly hoping to be included.
On the drive to school, I prayed Joshua 1:9 with my kids: “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” I encouraged all my kids to remember they can talk to God anytime. I knew as our eyes met she understood this, but the anxiety about lunch remained.
While the girls weren’t intentionally mean to my daughter, she still felt the sting of rejection. I understand this pain.
I’ve been the girl whose friends turned on her.
I’ve been the girl to enter a new school with no friends . . . three times.
I’ve been the girl who was spit on at lunch.
I’ve been the girl targeted for mean remarks and rumors.
I’ve been the girl whose friend made fun of her in order to look “cool” to other kids.
I’ve been the girl with no self-esteem.
I’ve been the girl who spent years looking for acceptance.
I’ve been the girl who just wanted good friends.
I am the girl who is uncomfortable to this day in groups of women, fearing I’ll be the one to get picked on.
I am the girl who is hard to get to know, but is fiercely loyal to her friends.
My momma heart hurts for my daughter. My momma heart hurts for your daughter. Unfortunately, it’s not just little girls who can be mean. Women – adult women – use their words to pierce each other’s hearts as well, usually with a sneaky intentionality. I can’t even tell my sweet daughter this is a phase! I know better.
Fortunately, my daughter has a relationship with Christ. She refuses to conform to those around her in order to be accepted. I lacked a relationship with God, and the older I got, the more I conformed to make others accept me. I pray my daughter can avoid the pain I felt because she isn’t looking to fill a void.
Yet still, it’s hard for her. She simply wants to be included in conversations. At lunch, she’s not even looking for a friend so much as a nice, welcoming gesture from the girls at her table to simply include her in a conversation.
I don’t know the struggles of every girl who is hurting, but I have seen my Facebook friends commenting about their hurting hearts. Their daughters are being bullied. They are hearing harsh words because they look different. They are sitting alone in school, at lunch, at recess and simply waiting for someone to say hi. When our daughters (or sons) hurt, our momma hearts hurt too.
God reminded me of His Son:
Jesus’ own earthly family rejected him (John 7:3-5).
Jesus felt the sting of betrayal from a close friend (John 18:4-6).
We are not alone. We have a loving Father who understands our pain. We have a sympathetic King who relates to our daughter’s hurts.
While I don’t have a solution, I can offer this: pray.
Pray for a true and loyal friend. Pray for their strength. Pray for them to lean into God’s comfort. Pray for their protection.
And then trust God. He will work this out. Share the stories of Jesus’ pain with your daughters. Cry with them. Comfort them. Share your own stories of rejection. Continue to teach your children to include others and to be watching for kids who are hurting. God will use their situation for His glory.