I experienced something the other day at school. We had a special day called a "Challenge Day" for students and staff. It was about "being the change" and accepting one another for who we are (not who we pretend to be). We were challenged to just be ourselves, with our pains, our regrets, our strengths, our dreams, everything. It was a great day.... emotionally exhausting, but great.
The first thing we, as staff, did was to create a "tunnel" for the students to come through as they came into the gym. We lined up on either side and cheered, clapped, smiled and high-fived the students as they walked in and came through the "tunnel" to find their seats in the gym. What a great welcome it was for them, knowing that we were genuinely excited for them to be there. We celebrated them! We clapped and cheered for them! We didn't expect anything from them... no grades, no homework, etc. We were just glad they were there.
The rest of the day was a series of "ice breakers", hugs, high-fives, smiles, leading up to a time when we would talk about "if you really knew me". The leaders gave us the opportunity (staff and students alike) to talk about what we're really like... the pain, the anger, the frustration, the good things, the hard things. It gave us the opportunity to physically see that we are not alone. I saw others, teachers and students alike, who have lost a loved one to suicide. I saw students who deal every day with really difficult home situations. With every hard thing that came up, we offered love, hugs, acceptance and friendship. We didn't judge, we didn't correct, we didn't lecture. We loved.
I walked away from that day thinking, "why isn't the church like this?". What if, our Sunday morning, as people came to worship, there was a line of people cheering and welcoming us? What if we knew we were loved and accepted and wanted and celebrated even with all our faults, sins, pains, and weaknesses? This is what the Lord does for us! We have this in HIM, but what about "His Body" the church? Too often the church is where we are judged, condemned, gossiped about, ridiculed for being weak, for not being what others think we should be.
I am challenged to "be the change". I want to make a difference where I am. I want to smile and let people know I care.... I really care. People matter! My students matter to me! I love them! My family is everything to me! I would die for them! I love them more than I can express. How much difference it would make, even for one person if we were genuinely happy to see them, if we welcomed them, if we cared for them.... smiled and helped.
This is my challenge where I work and where I live.
Love someone today.