Thursday, August 18, 2011

M i S f I T s

Hollow heart made of puzzle pieces
Image credit Horia Varlan on Flickr

We were the kids from across the tracks
about whom the town kids made cruel cracks
funny to them, and we would pretend
they mattered nothing to us.

 Wrong clothes, wrong shoes, no small talk filler
not enough money to buy acceptance
could change rules but lacked the confidence
Never Having Been Enjoyed.  *

Couldn't seem to excel in sports or
reach the level of expectation for
any acclaim.  Leftover pieces--
Cut from the Puzzle of Life.

Kindergarten.  Morning class.  Seven blocks to school, walking with my older sister & brother.  Not always sure where to go, what to do, sometimes pieces of cardboard or soft cut-out leather in my shoes to keep out the rain, often holes in the back of my little socks.  Still, it was fun.  My one "show-off" accomplishment, doing the splits:), got me in trouble one day though (along with two or three watchers) when I wasn't at my desk when the bell rang.  I had to sit out for awhile--oh, the shame of it!  And Miss Kay, who sometimes helped in our classroom came in and saw me--Miss Kay, whom I idolized and fantasized I was!  Magnified mortification!  I told my mother I was sick and didn't want to go back to school. 

First grade, change of schools, only four blocks away.  I walked with a girl from down the block, whose dad was an alcoholic and whose mom pinned a handkerchief to her dress each morning.  On the way, we often took a short cut across a vacant lot where our vivid imaginations concocted tales of a giant so realistic that we scared ourselves silly!   A red-haired "patrol"  waited for us at the crosswalk, teasingly insisting I could not cross until I did the splits for him.  One day, returning home after a rare school party,  in an effort to run across without appeasing him, I dropped the dixie ice-cream cup I'd stashed in the back of my desk to keep for my beautiful baby sister.  What bitter grief when the deliciousness I'd craved but saved spilled, cancelling the joy of sacrifice!

Actually, I remember little about first grade other than a few classmates seated near my desk.  I don't know the teacher's name; the kids all called her "Miss Crab Apple."  We memorized the Pledge of Allegiance and Lord's Prayer and recited them each morning.  I do recall one of the naughtier boys bending and peeking to see the girls' panties beneath the dresses we wore--hot sin:) that blushed my face!--not because of his bold  and wicked daring so much as because my panties were not frilly, pretty like the little blonde's, a bit rag-tag, less than snowy white.  (And why did I just share that, I wonder?...seems I felt the light laughter of those little 5 or 6 yr olds more than I thought for that incident to come to mind).

I know of many who have felt it even more than I--the desire to reach "the measure" that feels dismally unattainable, to belong, to have others affirm us as part of the accepted, wanted group.  We all seek a place--even at a table in the school cafeteria.  We all want to count as more than a dork, to contribute to a conversation even when we don't know how, to find someone who cares about our feelings, listens to our thoughts...likes us.

In my heart, I really believe it's that longing that motivates many to get snared in society's ills, including drugs and immorality.  What can we do to change that?  As parents and grandparents, first of all, let US focus individual attention and enjoy each child's personality and unique expressions, encourage their interests, help develop their talents.  Being enjoyed instills confidence!  Never belittle them or speak derisively to or about them.  Sometimes, we can love distractedly without communicating pleasure and affection in a way that builds confidence in being desired and valued.  Loving can include seeking available help in any weak areas. 

But, of course, we're limited and should teach children foremost how much they matter to their Creator God. Teach them that His approval and acceptance are the most important, more than that of any other person or "in" group.  "Yes, Jesus loves me" is still valid.  Receiving Him as Savior and very real Friend protects from many temptations, and we should train them how to stand alone--with His strength--in difficult situations.  Making Christ the center of our home, and living out His character--by honoring one another--helps His peace to reign over resentment, anger, and insecurity. Try to keep home a happy, hospitable haven with lots of laughter:)  (No absolute guarantees against wrong choices, just safeguards)

Finally, we should teach those little ones under us to value and respect themselves and every other person--to never allow anyone to hurt or violate them without reporting to a respected authority--never laugh at or leave out anyone because of something they cannot help or change.  We can condemn bad behavior without being hateful to the one doing it, and we should stand up for others who are being hurt, bullied, or berated.  We should pray for the bullies--for often they carry their own dark, sad secrets--but speak up for anyone being victimized. Talk and exemplify kindness and consideration--never ever be part of a group--no matter how popular--that demeans others.  

That would, of course, include church cliques--all ages--which would probably get the same X rating from Jesus as the Pharisees of His day!  He shed His blood for the whole world and receive all who come to Him.  He even brought me to His banqueting table, not as though ashamed, but proudly proclaiming, "She's mine!" :) "His banner over me is love!"  He has a niche for every misfit, no throwaways.  Dare we disdain those He welcomes?

* Speaking for others besides us, would never, in any way, "dis" my precious parents:)


  1. Disclaimer: In no way am I discrediting my precious parents or pitying myself for my childhood. I wanted to speak for others beyond myself and emphasize that taking time to enjoy children gives them confidence for success! Of course, I do know how it feels to wear ugly shoes & out of style hair & clothes, to want desperately to engage in small talk but not know what to say, etc. And I personally know kids with learning &/or emotional disabilities, kids from nightmarish abuse situations...we just never know from first glance what causes a child to act withdrawn or misbehave--nor what an adult has/is dealing with either.

  2. Please show compassion for parents of "misfits", too. While many irresponsible parents are out there, not all parents can be blamed for their child's wrong choices.

    And you might consider mentoring a misfit yourself. Shepherd/King David's "Mighty Men" were all disgruntled misfits he took & trained (from cave headquarters)into an amazing army!