I think that we can learn a lot of lessons from children- those near us and those we don’t know.
I sing with our music team at church. Today, we sang a song that a lot of our music team members complain about, are tired of, don’t really like much. I have to admit that it is one of my favorite songs. It’s called “Undignified” and the message is that I will do whatever I am called to do without being ashamed. I will dance and sing and not be concerned about the people staring at me- in fact, me fully embracing what God is calling me to do may just somehow inspire someone else.
Part of why I love the song- and I wish the congregation could see what I see- is because the kids really demonstrate what the song is all about. The adults tend to stand there and maybe sing, maybe not. Maybe clap, most likely not, maybe raise up hands, most likely not. Certainly never dance or bounce around. But the kids- oh, the kids! The jump up and down and dance and wave their arms around! That joy, that love, that free spiritedness… that’s inspiring.
There is a boy in our neighborhood who is in a wheelchair. I don’t know him, I don’t know where he lives, I don’t know his parents. I saw him for the first time yesterday. I’d say he’s around 10 years old or so. Yesterday evening, we went for a walk after dinner. Teagan on her tricycle, Zach in his stroller, Sassy on the leash. As we approached the end of our street, there is a boy on a bike, riding alongside his friend in the wheelchair. 2 boys, 2 sets of wheels.
Today, I was driving home and saw a boy on the sidewalk. It looked as though he had taken a spill and was working on getting his bike back upright. Being a mom, I kept an eye on him in case he was hurt or needed help. As I got closer and as he righted what I thought was his bike, I realized that he hadn’t been on a bike. He was righting his friend! The boy in the wheelchair. I don’t know what happened, but as I passed, both boys had huge grins on their faces- even though their belongings were scattered on the sidewalk, even though there had been a fall. They had each other and as they laughed and grinned and looked at each other, I could only imagine the adventure that had gotten them to that place… that’s inspiring.
Teagan made me so proud today. She asked to come with me to church and she asked to stay for both services, which is normal. She went to Sunday School, greeted people, participated in Small Talk (children’s sermon). Second service, she goes up for Small Talk and sits next to a girl she knows and likes. While Pastor Rusty is talking, Teagan drops her quarter and goes to get it. When she turns around, another girl has taken her carefully selected spot by her friend. Teagan walks directly up to this girl. Stands there and stares. I’m in my seat, waiting to see what will happen. Seconds that feel like minutes pass. Slowly, Teagan turns around, holding her head high, shoulders squared. I can see she is fighting tears and she looks to me, unsure of how to handle the situation. I gesture that she can come to me- she runs and the tears spill. I hold her. She rushes out the words, “I went to get my quarter and I turned around and she took my seat and I told her I was sitting there and I wanted her to move and she wouldn’t even look at me or answer me and I wanted to sit by my friend!” I tell her that there isn’t much we can do about it right now without being rude to Pastor Rusty. And I tell her that even when it feels like other people are being mean, she can always know that Mommy loves her and Daddy loves her and God loves her and Mimi and Pop-pop and Grandma and lots and lots of other people love her no matter what. She smiled through her tears and accepted the tissue I offered. She sat with me the rest of Small Talk and then ran to Sunday School- with joy.
After church, I told her that I was very proud of her. Because sometimes when it feels like someone is being mean to us, when someone isn’t considering our feelings, it is easy to be mean back and want to hurt them the way we are hurting. But she didn’t do that. Instead of hitting or kicking or using ugly, mean words to that girl, Teagan chose to walk away. She used her words to express what she wanted and then made a good choice to walk away. She showed kindness, in her own way, when faced with meanness… that’s inspiring.