Pre-Order So God Made a Mother

“I don’t think she likes me,” my daughter stated matter-of-factly.
It was the third time that week she’d made a similar statement, each time about someone different.
“Why would you say that?” I asked, yet again.
And before she even finished her answer I was formulating my rebuttal. Because for some reason I feel like I have to disagree with my daughter whenever she declares someone doesn’t like her. I have to try to find a reason that person may have ignored, overlooked her, been short-tempered, or left her out. Any logical reason other than that person just doesn’t like her.
Part of it is because I just can’t imagine why someone wouldn’t like my daughter. I’m her mom, after all, and I think she’s pretty fantastic—kind-hearted, funny, outgoing, easy to get along with.
But as I examined my reaction a little more closely I had to admit to myself that a bigger part of me just didn’t want her to go through life obsessively worrying over who likes her and who doesn’t.
Like I have.
I think back to all of the times I’ve said the same words to my husband or best friend, often with tears brimming in my eyes: I don’t think she (or he) likes me. I’ve said it about colleagues, people from church, neighbors, and my kids’ friend’s parents. Just yesterday I said it about a fellow writer I’ve never even met in real life. 
I’ve avoided social situations because of it. And when I didn’t avoid those situations I came home and obsessed over what I could have said or done to make them feel that way. I’ve questioned my home, my wardrobe, my parenting, my breath, my laugh, my husband’s laugh, my kid’s behavior, and my inability to be punctual to most things — because surely there must be a reason they don’t like me. It must be one of these things.
Oy vey. The amount of hours wasted worrying over this, I can’t begin to tell you. And this is just in my adult years; I’ve pretty much blocked out how much I obsessed and worried over being liked as an adolescent.
I absolutely do not want my daughter to go down this same path. Because here’s the thing, the lesson it’s taken me 40 years to learn (and yet sometimes still forget): I do not need to be liked by everyone.
Is it important to be kind, and treat others as you want to be treated? Absolutely! But we do not have to make sure every other living person wants to be our friend. Especially not at the cost of changing who we are in order to be liked.
And yet. This seems to go against our grain; our innate desire as humans—as women—to be liked. To be accepted and appreciated and loved. This is the truth that haunted me earlier this week as I pondered why I struggled for so many years with the need to be liked, and why my knee-jerk reaction was to convince my daughter that others liked her when she was sure they didn’t. 
It was then, in the stillness of that moment, that I heard another truth. Truth with a capital “T” whispered in my heart: “fulfillment, acceptance, and love come from Me. Others cannot meet that need—no matter how many friends you have. Only I can fill that longing you feel because I’m the one that put it there. I gave you that thirst so that you would seek me, the living water, and desire relationship with me.”
Not everyone is going to like me. Not everyone is going to like my daughter. Not everyone is going to like you.
My laugh will be too loud for some people. My daughter’s opinions will be too contradictory for others. Your authentic self will be too much for someone out there. And that’s OK. They are not your people. Validation does not come from them.
We have a heavenly Father who designed us to be exactly who we are—loud laugh, strong opinions, and all. He loves us wholly, invariably, and unconditionally. He is the only one who can fill that emptiness and take away the loneliness.
Next time my daughter comes to me and says, “I don’t think she likes me,” I’m going to hug her and say, “Maybe. Maybe not. But it doesn’t really matter, because you were already chosen a long time ago, by One who knows you better than anyone else and loves you exactly as you are.”
You may also like:

Jelise Ballon

Jelise is an educator, writer, and speaker. She is author of the book "Forgiven and Restored" and founder of the Renew and Restore Women's Retreat. But the two roles she is most passionate about are those of wife and mother. She has been married to her husband for 20 years and together they have three teenagers. You can read more at her blog:, or follow her on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram

What Happens to the Mamas When Their Children Are Grown?

In: Faith, Motherhood
Five children walking hand-in-hand, color photo

A friend came up to me the other day after church and commented, “I’ve never seen you alone. I had to make sure you were okay.” It’s true. I’m never alone. I usually have one or two children hanging onto me and three more milling about with my husband close. But at that moment, my husband had stepped away to collect the younger ones from the children’s service, and my older two had run off with their friends. I was standing alone. And as I stood there, one thought crossed my mind, “This is what it will be like when...

Keep Reading

8 Fight Songs for the Single Mom

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Woman holding earbuds in ears

They whispered to her: You cannot withstand the storm. I have had days when the storms hit me while I sat on the shower floor with my knees to my chest feeling completely defeated, letting the hot water beat down on my body. I have had nights when the storms hit me as tears stained my pillow. As time has moved on, I am learning how to beat the storms. This is only possible because of the family and friends that God has brought into my life. This is my fight song. These are and have been my take back...

Keep Reading

Your Brother Is With Jesus Now

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Brother and sister in yellow outfits smiling on park bench

“Thao is with Jesus now,” we told her, barely choking out the whisper. Jesus. This invisible being we sing about. Jesus. The baby in the manger? Jesus. How can we explain Jesus and death and loss and grief to a 3-year-old? And now, how can we not? We live it, breathe it, and dwell in loss since the death of her brother, our son, Thao. Here we are living a life we never wanted or dreamed of. Here we are navigating loss and death in a way our Creator never intended. What words can I use to describe death to...

Keep Reading

Even When You Can’t Find Joy, Jesus Is There

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Sad woman through pane of rain covered glass

The international church service was vibrant with voices lifted up in songs of praise. Many clapped their hands and some even danced before God. But I wanted to be invisible. Joy felt like a land depicted in a fairy tale. I had returned from the hospital the day before—a surgery to remove the baby who had died in my womb. Watching this church buzz with happiness unearthed my fragileness. I slouched in my chair and closed my eyes. Tears trickled down my freckled face. My mind knew God was in control, but my heart ached as yet another thing I...

Keep Reading

He Mends Our Broken Hearts

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Praying hands of woman with bracelets

Rays of soft sunlight streamed through the curtain onto the hospital bed. I stepped to the edge of the bed, taking a moment to soak in his face before gently holding his hand. Eighty-nine years is a rich, full life, and each passing day revealed more convincingly it was time for him to go. Grief and relief shared the space in my heart as I carried the weight of understanding each visit held the opportunity to be my last.  When he felt my hand, his eyes opened, and he gifted me a smile. Pop Pop always had a smile for...

Keep Reading

When I Feel Like a Failure, God Reminds Me of His Grace

In: Faith, Motherhood
Child hugs mother in sun flare

I’ve always been a teeth grinder, especially during times of high stress. Striving manifests itself physically through my teeth and jaw. I have even shifted several of my teeth from the grinding, moving my pearly whites to become crooked and a little unsightly. I should’ve known this morning that the night of grinding my teeth before was going to turn into a day of clenching my jaw. The spiritual warfare was intense, the temptations strong. I felt angry and burnt out.  After I finally laid my son down for a nap, I sat on the couch and told God, “I...

Keep Reading

My Father’s Faith

In: Faith, Grief
Man with grown daughter, color photo

I’ve been thinking a lot about legacy lately.  When my dad passed away in 2011, I lost the most influential person in my life. He was sacrificial in his love for me and others. His heart was devoted to the Lord, and it was evident to all who knew him. His death marked me in a significant way, and I still struggle with grief 11 years later. But his life marked me in an even greater way, and for that, I’m eternally grateful. As I reflect on legacy, I think about the impact that my dad’s faith had (and still...

Keep Reading

He’s the God of Small Things In Motherhood Too

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman holding infant, black-and-white photo

Normally, on a Sunday afternoon during the girls’ naptime, I try to get some work done or lie down to rest. But a few days ago, I instead wrapped a blanket around my waist to keep warm and pulled cutting boards and pots out of the cupboard.  Before I had kids, I wondered what kind of mom I would be. In fact, I was pretty sure I knew. My outgoing and vivacious personality attracted kids to my side for years. Their energy matched mine, and we giggled and chased each other before collapsing on the floor. I pictured myself holding...

Keep Reading

Silence the Lie that Says You’re Too Much

In: Faith, Living
Mother and daughter smiling outside wearing sunglasses

As a kindergartner sometimes I tagged along to my mom’s work as a hotel housekeeper. While my mom worked, I played in the recreation room. Her boss checked on me and always had something fun to play with or a story to share.  One day, in a burst of excitement, I shared something special that happened over the weekend with the supervisor. The words bounded from my mouth like a puppy ready to play in the morning.  The boss chuckled, “Whoa, motor mouth! Slow down!” In a split second, my 5-year-old heart crumbled, and the lie that would follow me...

Keep Reading

Let’s Stop the Negative Talk about Marriage

In: Faith, Marriage
Square, wooden arch with floral and fabric in field, color photo

Growing up, I remember hearing many negative phrases used about marriage—on TV, by distant relatives, anywhere, really.  “The old ball and chain.” “All my wife does is nag.” “You’re happy in your marriage? You must still be in the honeymoon phase.” These are just a few examples of the many things I have heard for years that create a negative connotation around marriage. I never really thought much of it until I fell in love and got engaged to the man of my dreams. Can you guess what happened next? “Just wait . . .” I heard entirely too many...

Keep Reading