I often think about the facades people keep up and the secrets that are hidden deep in our hearts. How it separates us from others, and leaves us feeling alone.
Leaves us feeling less....less worthy, less capable, less loveable, less acceptable, etc.
Today I enjoyed the company of two ten year old boys. Both, complete strangers to me. One in the morning at church. Another in the late afternoon at the pool.
These boys set a shining example of vulnerable living, honest sharing, bold encouragement and faith.
As we discussed forgiveness in our small group at church this morning, one young man at our table piped up often. "I've been left out at recess a lot of times. It hurts my feelings, but I try really hard to forgive and be nice to them anyway." As the young boy next time him said that he didn't have anything he needed to ask forgiveness for, he piped up again, "You mean you've never hit your brother? Or talked back to your parents? Or been the one who was a bad friend??" His vulnerable sharing and gentle questioning paved the way for the other kids to honestly assess their lives, jot down things they need to forgive or ask for forgiveness for, and even share a little with the group. As we bowed our heads, this young man asked if he could pray, and he offered up the prayer of a confident, contrite man. At the ripe old age of ten.
The young man I had the pleasure to meet this afternoon was a similar kind of awesome. As Zachary climbed the ladder to the high dive, fear was all over his face. As he stood at the top, bracing himself on the handrails, breathing heavily, squeezing his eyes tightly shut, and trying hard to convince himself to walk forward and jump ... encouragement came from a young boy on the ground. "We've got all day, take your time. I still get scared up there too, so I have to force myself to jump sometimes. And it's fun. Just a little scary at first. But FUN." As Zach climbed back down the ladder, the kid encouraged him to take a break and try again later. This scenario repeated itself three times. Zach going to the top, the young boy encouraging and confessing his own weaknesses, Zach climbing back down. The forth time, the boy stood at the base of the ladder as Zachary hurried to the end of the board and jumped....before he could change his mind, exactly as the young encourager had suggested. And the encourager missed it! He told Zach that he was sorry he'd missed his jump, and Zach readily did it for him again. And again. And again. And the boys cheered and celebrated with high fives and laughter.
These two boys were such blessings to be around today, as they loved others through affirmation, truth, transparency, encouragement and even prayer. Amazing kids. As I lay my head down tonight, I will pray that they don't lose their heart for others, and that through their hearts their piece of the world will be changed. I will also pray for the courage to be more like them, and for the wisdom to impart this way of loving on the hearts of my children. It was through these two boys' words, actions and examples that those around them found the courage to be honest about who they are and where they struggle.
"Love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:39