Reboot: The Beauty of not being good enough – (Getting “Cut” from the team)


My daughter got cut from the varsity volleyball team this fall. Having poured herself into that sport for the last four years and with dreams to even play in college, it was a blow of colossal proportions. Yet a virtual stranger who probably doesn’t recognize the power she wields decided, “Nope. You’re not good enough for me.”

“Cuts” are so aptly named, aren’t they? It actually feels like a physical cut: leaving one wounded, bleeding…. in pain. And the injury didn’t just end with Grace – her “cut” deeply wounded me and Paul as well. Maybe even worse. Nothing hurts us more than our children hurting… Grace came home after cuts and while wrapped up in each other’s arms we bled all over the couch together for a while. Eventually she smiled, got up, and said “I have no more tears. I’m tired” and she went to bed.

No matter how hard we parents try to create a justification for this indignation (blaming, shaming, name-calling, conspiracy-theory, etc.) the cold-hard reality of the situation, which we eventually have to come to terms with, is that our child was just told: “You are not worthy. You are not good enough. I did NOT choose you.” That’s the bald truth and it stings.

By morning the sting had dissipated some and I was thankful I hadn’t acted in haste and posted something nasty on Facebook or Twitter.

But on the second day a miracle happened. It was a Saturday, which is a day traditionally OWNED by volleyball. But now, having a totally free Saturday, Grace, Yulisa and I chose to participate in a peaceful protest in Grand Rapids. Afterwards, we went out to a swanky coffee shop for tea and scones. We sat outside in the sunshine and faced the street and pretended we were Europeans. We talked about civil rights, civil duties, religious freedoms, and standing up for what you believe in. We talked about Thoreau, Rosa Parks, and MLK. We talked about making your life count.

Between sips of chai, she gifted me with this: “Mom, I wouldn’t trade this moment, this conversation, this day spent with you guys for anything. Not even volleyball.”

I wanted to say this: “You have no idea what this means to me, baby. No idea. Having a terminal illness, I want to be so selfish with your time. Truthfully, I want it ALL. This sacred time with you girls beats cheering you from the side-lines, which is really no interaction at all, a million to one. Every time.”

Instead, I pondered those thoughts quietly and we three just held hands and wept a little.

And then we came up with an idea. We decided to begin a list of all the things she now COULD do because of the time reclaimed sans volleyball. Every one of us has been given only 24 hours in a day – and no one can say “yes” to everything. And while most people try to deny this, the truth is that whenever we say “yes” to something, it represents something else we are saying “no” to. Grace wanted to call out, and clearly identify what all those “something else’s” were in her life.

On school nights and Saturdays when she would have normally been playing volleyball, she was now able to participate in a variety of incredible things – things not limited to, but including the following:

  • Breakfast with her youth group leader
  • Sprawled out on her bed with Yulisa – sharing earbuds– giggling and listening to hours of music together
  • Dinner with long-time family friends discussing things like Middle-eastern and South-African politics, saving dating until college, and the role of the church with immigration – which required us to stay out way past midnight on a Friday night but not caring because we were going to SLEEP IN on a Saturday for once!
  • A day of boating/tubing with her friends (friends that SHE chose, not whom volleyball chose FOR her)
  • Visiting her grandma at the nursing home
  • A family birthday celebration at a snazzy restaurant where no one was rushed and we gorged ourselves on bottomless sweet potato fries and drank root beer floats till we were dizzy.
  • Took a road trip with her siblings to see Ben Rector in concert in Detroit.
  • Cheered on her HS soccer team, tennis team and swim team – realizing if EVERYONE is a participant, then NO ONE is a spectator. And everyone enjoys playing more with spectators present.
  • Playing her guitar and singing with the praise team for her youth group.
  • Went “thrifting” with a dear friend and she found a $75 sweater for $5.

And this is only a partial list from the first couple of weeks….

Upon reviewing that list, we came to a profound conclusion: It’s as if God had an actual plan for her life all along, so perfectly tailored for Grace and her giftedness, that at this juncture, there simply wasn’t time for volleyball anymore. It’s as if, in God’s brilliantly upside-down kingdom, He was saying, “Grace, you didn’t get cut, you were chosen!”

It’s not that volleyball is bad, it’s just not the team Grace was chosen FOR.

  • What if Grace’s youth group leader composed a team? She’d say, “Grace! I choose you!”
  • What if Grandma made a team? She’d day, “Grace! I want you! You’re chosen!”
  • What if her friends made up a team? They’d say, “Grace! We choose you!”
  • What it the community put together a team? A team of young go-getters who epitomize service to others? They’d surely say, “Grace, we want you!”
  • What if our family was a team? (and I do believe we are) – We’d raise our collective voices and say, “Grace! Welcome back to our team!”

Yep – Grace got cut from volleyball. But look at all the teams that DID choose her!

So if you, or anyone you love, has ever been “cut” from a team – or the musical, or the band, or from a university, or the [insert thing that you wanted so badly but didn’t get] – maybe we just need to ask a different question.

Maybe the question isn’t, “Why did I get cut?”

But instead, “For what have I been chosen?”



13 thoughts on “Reboot: The Beauty of not being good enough – (Getting “Cut” from the team)

  1. Cindy,

    This is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing. Tim recently wrote an article on rejection. One interesting note is that our brains sense rejection in the same location that they sense physical pain. In fact you can take tylenol for the hurt of rejection – it works in the same way as with physical pain.

    But your article goes to a level we didn’t explore. I think I’m going to have to pass it on or link it or something. (unless you ask me not to which is fine). Grace’s being ‘cut’ was also her story being chosen to bless us all with a deeper understanding of what it is to be chosen.

    Thank you Grace, Thank you Cindy!

    1. Hi Katie! Of course you may use this in any way that you’d like. That really is the primary reason I write (besides catharsis…)- in hopes that others will find it helpful. Also – I would love to have a copy of Tim’s article – sounds fascinating. Can you send that to me? Thank-you so much! God bless you both!

  2. I’m so glad she was “chosen” and can spend more time with you! It’s been great to see her having fun with friends these last few weeks, too. I know how difficult it is when our teenage girls feel rejected. But I believe that things happen for a reason. You’re all so smart to look at the positives!

  3. Thank you for this Cindy, my senior daughter was cut this fall from the volleyball team as well so I can relate to every word in this story. Recently I have been so thankful to God for giving us back our daughter as we’ve had so much more time together this fall. I know next fall when she is off at college I will be so thankful for the time and memories we made because she wasn’t playing. You wrote just how I’ve been feeling. God Bless.

    1. And God bless you, too, Carol! These years with our kids under our roof are so fleeting! How could we ever feel bad/sad for having MORE time with them??? Although it is a heartache to feel rejected, it is certainly a blessing to reclaim so much of their time! I feel like I’m getting to know my daughter again… that’s been so incredibly rich!

  4. Cindy
    I wish everyone that has been cut from a team, let go from a job or whatever it might be would have a chance to read this. I will definatly share this with any one I know if they find themselves in this situation. Thanks for sharing

    1. I love you, Kari. Motherhood is the best. And sometimes the worst. But mostly the best. And you are gonna KILL IT because of your enormous heart and your incredible ability to love so well!!! Godspeed to you in your mothering journey!!!

  5. Hi Cindy, more beautiful and insightful writing from you, my dear friend and warrior. It brought to mind to me the question we so often ask in “Why me” when we should be asking “why not me?” I used to bury myself in why me and it wasn’t working for me at all! “Why not me” empowers and makes me feel challenged and inspired. Exactly what reading your inspirational words did for me.

    1. Thanks, Sherry! I love that insight – “Why not me?” – Such a better approach to life especially when we’re faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges! But why wouldn’t God ask me to do hard things? Of course, He would and He does! So we pray for courage and resilience. And we press on. Thank-you, my fellow comrade in the writing world!!! xoxo

  6. Oh my goodness. This blog was so good for us. Believe it or not our daughter, also named Grace, was cut from the varsity volleyball team this fall.

    We could identify with this situation and the happy ending you discovered.

    Thanks for sharing this! So good.

    1. Okay – so this is UNCANNY! Your daughter’s name is GRACE, too??? And she ALSO got cut from the varsity volleyball team??? I knew God had given me a word to share with all of those who have suffered a painful loss like this – but WOW, this is REALLY a direct hit for your family, eh? I hope, in some small way, it gave your daughter some peace and hope for the future. My Grace is now about to graduate from college (I wrote this piece a few years back) and she is soaring in her love for social work, immigration, justice, and peace-building efforts. She spent one summer working in a dreamy job as a life-guard and getting a killer tan, another summer she spent back-packing in Europe, another one working for an organization working to expose the sex-trafficking epidemic in Grand Rapids: All things she’d NEVER have been able to do if she stuck with volleyball. She lives in California. She surfs, she sings and plays her guitar, she spends her weekends in Tijuana working with the marginalized, AND, on occasion, she will play a little intramural volleyball (she’s still got it!). But the bottom line is this: She’s living her best life and it has nothing to do with volleyball!!! Please, please let your Grace know – she has been CHOSEN for a team (maybe yet to be determined) but it will, no doubt, be a better team and will give her a blessed, better life. I promise.

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