Some of the greatest spiritual lessons I’ve learned in my life have been from my son. This most recent is no exception.
Friday afternoon our doorbell rang. That’s pretty normal at our house. We’re the grand central station of the neighborhood with kids coming over all the time. And for the most part, I love it. Friday was a little different. We had a busy weekend planned and I was using my Friday afternoon/evening to get stuff done that I would normally take care of on Saturday. So when the doorbell rang and a child that I’ve never met before and his mom were standing there, I was a little caught off guard (and pretty stinkin’ miffed at my son). The mom promptly told me that her son brought a note home from Payne inviting him over to our house.
My frustration faded quickly as this mom told me that her 3rd grade son had never been invited to a friend’s house before. She told me how he’s always been a little “different” and has never really made friends easily. I quickly acted as if I knew the plans all along and the boys went off to play.
I watched and listened as they played together. Besides a speech delay, I could certainly see other signs of the “different” that his mother mentioned. He was perfectly polite but somewhat socially awkward. During one of my trips past Payne’s room to the laundry room, I heard the boy say, “Payne I’ve never had a friend like you before. I’ve never been invited over somewhere before. And you play with me at school, too. I’ve never had a friend like that.”
All at once, my heart broke and swelled with pride. And felt a great sense of conviction. I was so heartbroken for this 3rd grade boy who had never really had a good friend. I was so proud of my son for being a friend. And I was SO convicted for so often only being a friend when it’s convenient.
As I went to fold and hang laundry, the pride in Payne and conviction grew at about the same rate. As I thought of him living Jesus while being a friend to the friendless, I realized that all to often I’m not. I think all of us as adults, if we’re being honest, don’t really step out of our comfort zones of friendship. We’ll be friendly, we’ll be cordial, but don’t build friendships. We’ll put on a smile, exchange pleasantries but it never goes deeper. We have a certain “types” of people that we will invest the time of a friendship in and seldom, if ever, step outside of that.
What do we miss out on because of that? I felt God showing me that Payne, in his heart of gold and childhood innocence, really (as much as an 8-year-old can) sees people like Jesus does. He doesn’t see what society says isn’t normal, isn’t cool or is a bit awkward. He sees a heart. He sees a person. He sees someone who, just like all of us, just wants to be loved and accepted as we are. And he GENUINELY doesn’t see anything different or awkward.
As I stood and cried, proud of my son and humbled by his heart, I began to pray for God to give me that heart in seeing people. God, help me to see the heart of people. Help me to look past what looks different, sounds different, acts different and see what you see. Teach me, Lord, to be a friend to the friendless. And please, Jesus, never let my son lose that.