Being Kind And Brave

My serious posts are few and rather far between.  It’s because my serious writing comes hard.  I struggle for the right words, and then always wonder, “Did I say too much?  Did I say too little?  Should I have just been completely quiet?”

And the biggest worry:  “Did I even MAKE SENSE?”

Always, I feel that way.  The nonsensical writing seems to roll right out of my fingertips when I sit at the computer… kind of like a child behind the wheel of a bumper car… fast and with a lot of crashes.  But it’s there, that ridiculous writing that sometimes makes people laugh; that writing comes out so easily.

I always feel like God didn’t bless me with the ability to write serious prose.

He gave us Ann Voskamp to do that.

Anyway.

Very recently, I witnessed a pack of children in the middle of some serious play.  Lots of giggles and heads thrown back in wild laughter.  Lots of running and zipping and jumping and everything else that a pack of almost-but-not-quite middle school kids would do.

And then one of them said to the others, “Quick!  Run ahead as fast as you can, and we’ll lock this one out!”

Which is exactly what I saw unfold.  The pack ran, full force, toward a door.  They all clamored onto the opposite side of that door, and then they locked it.  When the last child finally made it there, the door admitting him entrance into the fun and the laughter was closed to him.

There were tears.

So I stood up.  I raised my voice just a bit, so that I could be heard over a closed door, and encouraged the pack behind the door to open up, and let the last one in.

The door opened.

The last one, who had been locked out, ran inside.

Later, the door opened again, and that last one was shoved back outside by little hands.  Dismissed from the pack.  Again.  The last one was back on the opposite side of the door, and it was locked once more.

The tears burst out of this child in full force.

The tears of exclusion.

And this is where my heart pretty much exploded, and I ended up barking at a child who wasn’t mine.  I seldom bark at kids who don’t belong to me.  My own boys?  Oh, yes!  They’re going to get a good barking-at and growling-at when they cross lines, but usually I am quite good at practicing ALL THE PATIENCE IN THE WORLD with children who don’t belong to me, in all of the cases.  But on this night, the leader of the pack got to hear me give a heated, one-sentence lecture on just how much I didn’t approve of what had just shaken down.

And then it was over.

But I can’t quit thinking about it, because listen:  Isn’t this exactly our human nature?  To judge people and say, “You don’t meet the expectations we have for you, so you may not hang out with us.”

Shutting a door like this lets the person on the other side clearly know, “You do not live up to my standards.”  And as we sit on the opposite side of the locked door, bolstered by the comfort of having those around us who DO meet our standards, we mentally encourage the outsider to go forth and find somewhere else to be.

Somewhere else, far away from our door.

Thankfully, this isn’t how Jesus sees us.

He doesn’t care that we actually can’t meet His expectations of us.  He just throws the door open, grabs us by the hand, and pulls us right on into the room with Him.  He just accepts us, with all of our differences and labeled levels of worth, that don’t always meet the levels that people around us set.

He tells us, “You are enough.  You are enough for Me.”

I don’t say this to condemn the pack of kids.  I say this because I realized that I’ve been on the wrong side of the door too many times… and the wrong side of that door is the one that’s on THE INSIDE… where I do the DOOR-CLOSING routine.  Not long ago, Hubs was talking about a guy he knows quite well, and I had to say, “Yes… I do like HIM.  But his wife?  Oh, Hubs!  She’s so weird!  I just have no desire to even be around her!”

Boom.

There’s a closed door.

She doesn’t live up to the standards that I’ve set for people I want to be with.  Never mind the idea that I should get to KNOW HER BETTER… or the idea that I should be THOUGHTFUL ENOUGH TO INCLUDE HER WHEN A GROUP OF GIRLFRIENDS GETS TOGETHER.  She just rubs me the wrong way (never mind that I don’t even know her that well), and it’s so much easier to close a door on her and forget all about her, than it is to widen my standards and consider that not everyone needs to be JUST LIKE ME, in order to be included.

But Jesus?  Yeah… I’m fairly certain that He would push the door open to her, and that He’d have a table all set up, with mugs of hot coffee already poured for the two of them.

Anyway.

I’m as guilty of closing doors that need to be open as this little group of kids did to one of their own.  This weekend, I came across a blog article that sums up what I’m trying to say here tonight a lot better than I’ve managed to say it.  It just talks about how the mom encourages her boy to be kind and brave.  The author says, “Kind people are brave people. Because brave is not a feeling that you should wait for. It is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.”  The author wrote her article for the perspective of kids, but it pretty much applies to each and every single one of us, regardless of our ages.

Kind people ARE brave people, because being brave and kind really is a decision, instead of a feeling.

You can click RIGHT HERE to read what the author (Glennon Doyle Melton) wrote.

I know my prayer for my boys is that they will both always be kind and brave, filled with compassion for others, and that they will never know what it means to be ON EITHER SIDE of a door that has deliberately been shut, between two groups of people… that they will neither be the shutters or the shut-outs.

I just pray for genuine bravery in my boys, that they will always show compassion in excess, in the middle of the fear of fitting in.

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