“I’m proud of you,” I whisper into his three-year old ears as he falls asleep. So very proud.
After the June sun set late tonight, sweaty hair scrubbed clean and teeth brushed (as best as we can), you nodded off, and I watched you and remembered a lesson from the playground.
You see, today, I loaded you up for an adventure. A trip to a new playground, a glimpse into a different world.
We arrived and were met at once by preschool boys and girls your age. Some with mouths smudged by chocolate, some with cheeks burnt red and hot. A girl wearing winter boots as her summer shoes; a boy with hair long enough to tie back like my own.
There were beautiful dark faces, and pale freckled ones, too. There were words spoken in languages you do not know and adult words I overheard that I hope you didn’t.
But still, I looked around, and I took it in. All of it.
Like how you waited your turn to fill your paper cup with water to drink, because we are learning to serve ladies first. And how you explained the bigger boy could do tricks on the monkey bars, because he is bigger and you will be one day, too.
I remember how you watched the neighborhood kids play and how they let you join in. And how quick you were to take part. No longer an outsider, but one of them.
One community. Our community.
You were courageous.
Not only in how high you climbed the ladder with a confident grin, but in how you were thoughtful and patient and cared to meet friends. And you made them.
Because, now you are asking to go back and play.
You are asking if they have mommies and daddies like you do.
You are asking if they have as many toys as you.
But what I remember the most is our ride back afterward to our home. And you mentioned the next time. The next time we see them, we can tell. We can tell them about Jesus and the hope we know so well. We can say how Jesus loves them and we do, too. Everyone should know the price He paid for you.
And a lesson was learned.
Not that I said or did anything right. But that Jesus does. He is among us, even when we think they may be too little — He doesn’t. He tells us so.
“But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Luke 18:16
So be bold and be strong and go play. And make friends and share the best news and savor the day. And know that as you drift off to sleep and wake tomorrow anew, I will always praise God for each day I see Him working in you.
Friends, my heart is both full and heavy as I reflect back on the world we encounter when we step out of our comfort, our normal. The reality is this world is etched with broken spaces — which we find to be the perfect spots for seeds of love to sink in deep and grow. Today, I took my boys to a community that has become dear to me. On the grounds of a Project-Based section 8 housing complex, we are sharing our stories and becoming a part of others’. Let us be quick to understand that poverty is not always determined on a fiscal level — rather true treasure is found in matters of the heart. We are each so extremely valuable – of the greatest worth– to our Heavenly Father. Even in a world where pain is so prevalent, Jesus is MORE POWERFUL. He is our refuge and strength. Our good news. Forever.