I was watching a children’s cooking show on TV recently that required Captains to pick teams. I realized that I was feeling a lot of angst as this played out. Like heart-thumping stress, a little excessive for a cupcake competition.
I realized that I HATE watching when teams are being picked. I have a physical reaction.
Someone is always last, and it makes my heart hurt.
It comes as a flashback and I remember it like yesterday, being at my new school and having gym class out at the baseball field. The well-meaning teacher trying to get a group of gangly kids to do sports.
“Let’s pick teams.”
The words I most hated to hear.
Time to stare at the ground and hold my breath.
The two most popular students put in charge, getting to call out who was going to be on their side. Grins on the faces of those picked first. And there I stood. Shy, awkward “new girl” with big glasses and no co-ordination. Shrinking and shrinking as name after name was called. Heart pounding, hands sweating, my deep places whispering, “Please pick me, please….”
But I stood alone.
Loser of 7th grade.
Shuffling over to the side that didn’t even want me, but got stuck with me.
Always picked last.
I’m a grown adult now, fairly well adjusted and confident. I’m not very sporty so there aren’t many situations where I’m being selected for my baseball skills but sometimes, I will admit – I go back to that “last picked” head space. I’m on that baseball field, and other times in my life that have mirrored that experience in deeper and even more painful ways.
Sometimes the wounds of our past creep up on us.
Maybe we’ve been overlooked or devalued. Rejected and cast aside. Perhaps we’ve felt like we weren’t part of a team or had a place to belong. Feeling invisible and unknown. We look around and see people succeeding and getting ahead in life and we just stand there and think, “When it is my turn? What’s wrong with me? Will I ever get a chance?”
Don’t pick me last.
It’s really the cry of all our hearts.
To be chosen.
To be wanted.
And you are.
All of you who have stood on the dusty baseball diamonds of life, feeling your worth and value shrink – it’s not about being chosen first.
Regardless of when you get called, you can know you have already been chosen.
It’s ok to be last when you’re trusting in the one who always has you first.
You are His.
Picked before time began.
So maybe being last isn’t the worst thing to happen to you. When you’ve felt the pain of last, you put others first. When you’ve felt the sting of exclusion, your arms fling open wide. When you’ve felt alone and stood in a place where everyone else belongs but you, you learn to lean into the identity that comes from who He says you are.
So stand tall. When all the names are being called, rest in the quiet assurance of who you are. If your name isn’t in bright lights, shine your heart out. If you don’t get asked to all the parties, doing all the fancy things – lean into what truly brings you joy. If your dreams aren’t being shouted out on megaphones to the world, keep being faithful and do the work you were created and called to do.
It’s not about when you get called,
You are already chosen.