There are few things that stick with such absolute clarity in my mind, but this visit was one of them. I was only a teen, so kept my mouth shut, but my heart broke.
We went to visit a family on the occasion of the birth of their third child. This was not a local family, but a missionary family. We were dropping off some baby clothes we were finished with to this family.
We stood over the little bed where a small bundle slept. Above my head came the sound of adult voices.
"Well, she's here. We really didn't want another child."
I waited. I had heard that a few times. I always cringe when I hear it, but I realize that at times a pregnancy takes people by surprise. What dropped my jaw was the words that came out of her mother's mouth next.
"We still aren't that happy about it. We just did not want more kids. Two was really enough."
The adult voices moved out of the room and on to have a cup of tea, and I stood there staring down at an adorable little face sleeping. On the other side of the room, the two other children, around kindergarten ages, played with their puzzles. I stood staring at this baby.
That moment was burned in my memory. I have a deep gut reaction even now to the thought of it. Just wait until that poor child breaks her sibling's toy.... "Mom didn't even want you!" Or until she get in the way.... Or....
So often over the twenty something years since I heard that statement made over that sleeping baby have I prayed for this child. A child so wanted by God. Given to be a blessing. I continue to pray for her - that God will let her know of His delight in her.
Rejection. Sometimes it comes before we are even born. Other times it comes because of who we are. My kids will have to walk that line at times simply because of who their parents are. Sometimes it happens because of what we believe. Every time it hurts.
There is the rejection of always being on the outside. Never fitting in. Of being more like an unliked group, of belonging to the wrong family. Of being born the wrong sex.
I am aware that I work among people who have faced continual rejection for one reason or another. I want to communicate the acceptance there is in God. But I am also aware that I work alongside people who have also been wounded by rejection. Wounds are powerful.
The problem with repeated or continuous rejection is that it creates a fear, a gut fear. Fear of further rejection can push people into a corner where they try everything they can to protect themselves. Often the first line of a defense is that infamous good offense. Rejected people will often reject love. They reject people so that they themselves can not be rejected.
It does take away the risk. It removes the unknown. But it replaces it with a known - a sure loneliness and isolation. Not the best of trades.
I am growing more and more convinced that God is asking us to work on our wounded areas - that in our healing, we are able to spread healing. If we hide our weaknesses, our wounding, and pretend to be whole, we are not displaying God's healing. We are only showing our patching - perhaps better than other's patching, but still patching all the same. But there is little that is as beautiful as real healing.
It involves risk. Risking again.