The Leftovers

Do you remember those brutal days in school when the team captains took turns picking players for their teams?

If you were a team captain, or one of the first four kids to be picked, then never mind.  On second thought, you may want to read on to understand the rejection the rest of us felt.

But if you were one of the kids picked last, you know, the ones the team captains really don’t want to be stuck with; then my condolences.

Read on.

I was one of the dorky kids.  The latter years of elementary and first years of middle school were absolutely ruthless that way.  My mom registered me for school immediately after we arrived in the U.S. from Cuba, but because of a language barrier mistake, I was put back two grades, rather than the typical one grade for non-English speaking kids.  Thankfully, in Cuba I had been advanced one grade.

I stood out like a bandaged thumb.  I was already a naturally tall kid, my father was about 6’2″.  I was also a chunky kid, who didn’t speak English very well, and had no experience with  American games and their rules.  And I was painfully shy.

Oh yeah, I stood out.

I terribly dreaded it when the team captains got to the end of the choices.  Whether verbally or non-verbally, the sentiment was clear.

“I guess I’ll take her.” or “No fair, why do I have to have her on my team?” or “Pleeaaaze, not her!”  Or worst yet,  a team captain begging the other team captain to trade their last choice for me.

Oh yeah!  That happened.

One time, a team captain chose me before it got to the end of the line.  That made my whole week.  I was floating on a cloud!  I felt like kissing her feet.

It felt awful to be the reject kid.  The leftover kid.  I longed to be anywhere but at school.  There were a few times I faked having to go to the bathroom “really, really bad” so when I got back to the playground, I was the last kid by default; and was spared the humiliation of being chosen last.

When they were picking out kids, I naturally wanted someone to say.  “I choose her. “ or “I want her on my team!”

I just wanted to be wanted, to be chosen.  I would have chosen that over a trip to Disneyland or a pony or a new wardrobe.

Mercifully, I developed allergies.  It was a particularly hot, dry day and we were running laps in middle school, formerly called junior high. I was running in the dust cloud lifted by the shoes of the faster classmates before me while asphalt was being poured on the street next to the field.

I remember the smell really bothered me.  It practically choked me.

I broke out in welts and found it hard to breathe.  My peers stared in astonishment as my face became deformed right before their very eyes.

My eyelids and nose swelled.  My lips became the size of sausages.  Similar to Will Smith’s experience in the movie Hitch, when he had an allergic reaction to shellfish. I looked like some beastly thing.  My throat was constricting, blocking my breathing.

A horrifying experience for anyone, let alone a teenage girl.

The nurse immediately took me to the emergency room.  I had had a less severe episode of an allergic reaction a few weeks before while running laps under similar conditions.  That time, it had been just welts and a rash. Since it was a life threatening situation and they couldn’t determine if it was something in the dust or the new asphalt, I got an excuse from P.E. for the rest of the year.

Who knew gasping for air could be so beneficial?

I was never so happy to almost die!

I bet God feels much like I did on that play ground desperately wanting to be wanted and to be chosen.   He created us.   He desires a relationship with us. He wants us.

He wants us to want Him. He wants us to choose Him. God does not see us as His leftovers.  We are His prized possession!

James 1:16 -18    So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us His true Word. And we, out of all creation, became His prized possession.

1 John 3: 1  See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are!

In Luke 13:34 Jesus cries out at the site of His beloved city. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and  stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”

2nd Peter 3:9  The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Do you have any tales of when you felt like a leftover you want to share?

By ~ Elizabeth Yalian 2013 ©


Filed under A Broken Childhood, Awed by His Love and Grace, In a Kids World, Inner Sruggles and Heartache

4 responses to “The Leftovers

  1. This blog entry reminds me of Janice Ian’s song “Seventeen.” That song still brings tears to my eyes even after all these years.

  2. thenakedtruth2

    Yes, memories. To be picked ‘last’ for any team is a direct assault on ones worth and character, even though this idea would never cross the captains mind.

    It’s ok being a misfit of sorts, there is no competition at the bottom. You may appreciate the post ‘the life of a hobo’ with similar ideas.

    • I agree, I don’t think the team captains thought of anything other than to play a good game and of course win. Being picked last is definitely a “direct assault on ones worth and character,” and even harder on teens and preteens who are beginning to question their worth. I read your “The Life of a Hobo” and left a comment there, thank you for sharing that. Yes, I see the similarities in those who feel insignificant. Thank you so much for visiting and for following!

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