Boy: A noise with dirt on it.

Recently, Lil Man disappeared with two of his neighborhood friends after they were told to stay in the front yard where I could see them. I followed the sounds of little boys laughter and rough housing until I located them in the alleyway behind our home, down a ways near the empty lot they like to play soccer on.

Much to my horror and amusement, two of the boys were inside of a large dumpster and the third was doing his very best to hoist them up and out of their predicament – to no avail. Their expressions were determined as they tried to find a way to get free, and soon became a mix of terror and relief when they saw me approaching them with the baby on my hip.

“We just needed that box and a wood board for our ramp!”

“It was my idea, they just said okay and wanted to help!”

“Look! I got it, Mama!! I wasn’t scared at all, and I knew I could climb in.

…I didn’t think I’d get stuck though…”

They all talked at once, covering each other’s words – his friends desperately trying to keep him out of trouble while Lil Man proudly declared his part in it all, incriminating himself beyond where I had found him. In a dirty, old dumpster. Far away from the front yard. In the busy alley that I have several times before told them all to stay out of without an adult…

I had a terrible time being stern with them, giggling to myself at the whole ordeal and trying to get past the amazement I felt. They were all informed of the unpleasantness found in dumpsters, and told of the painful ways you can deglove a finger (as well as other injuries.) In the end, however, I allowed Lil Man to help with the ramp-building, and testing said ramp out after it was completed.

He promised to never dumpster dive again, and had a steaming hot shower.

…And was promptly grounded an hour later when I had to hunt him down again, since he didn’t ask to leave the yard as we discussed him doing only a short time before. (Don’t blink, people! That’s all the time it takes!)

*sigh* It’s a difficult thing to encourage exploration and discovery while still maintaining as safe an environment as possible. These boys are gunna give me a heart attack…

Human Beings

Recently, a woman thanked me for allowing Lil Man to play with all the children in the play area of a fast food restaurant in town. I responded with surprise, and she informed me that the conversation was prompted by a man pulling his kids out of the room in an angry manner, simply because they were interacting with children who were of a different skin tone.

The elderly woman grew up in this city, and shared briefly about being mistreated often as a child because she was born the “wrong” color. She wanted me to know that she was proud, and hopeful, when she saw my young son unassumingly invite all the kids to join his game afterward, without noticing their differences.

But, he does. He sees the differences in people.
He says things like, “The girl with brown skin and red shirt? She helped me!” He drew an autistic child to himself, saying, “That kid isn’t so good with people, so I just sat and waited for him to be ready to play.”
He recognizes when their first language isn’t English, and works around it… “He doesn’t speak what we do, so we talked with our hands!”
He tells me he played with girl toys because that random stranger-child at the mall play area really liked them, so that way the other boy wouldn’t worry about it too much when everyone else thought it was weird. “Because toys are just toys, right? And people are important.”

He knows not everyone is like him. He isn’t immune to the fact that some people aren’t kind about what is different. But Lil Man very rarely lets these differences influence his choices nor does he allow them to define another’s value. He accepts them as fellow human beings. He meets people where they are and invites them into his world with very little hesitation.

As Christians, this is how we are called to be – this is how we are to love.

This has been on my mind for a little while now. All too often, I hesitate to move forward because of reasons involving safety. All too often, I worry about how others will react to me loving in the manner which Christ leads me to. All too often…I lose sight of Him and fail at the mission to connect in true relationship with Him and others because I get caught up within myself.

But we do not follow a God who is full of fear and cowardice. We do not bow down to One who is small or weak. He says, “Follow Me.” And He wants us to trust Him with the unknown. If I go forward when He tells me to, He will guard me. If I seek only His approval, He will grant my soul peace. If I keep my eyes on Him, my struggles will fade.

He is trustworthy. He is our fortress in battle. He alone is able.

Be still.
Know that He is God.
And find the freedom to love as He calls you to.