My youngest son and I walked hand in hand, into the church for the Wednesday night kids’ program. He was tired from a long day and just hanging on by a thread. It’s tough to be 4, sometimes. It’s even tougher when you have an expectation and things don’t go as planned. (Don’t we know it!) An unplanned (minor) hiccup in his evening caused a colossal meltdown, and if you have been around children, you’ll know the meltdown I’m talking about. TEARS. Oh, the tears. Buried face in my shirt. “I just want YOU, mommy.” Kids pouring in from all directions. Noise. Stares. Suddenly I’m surrounded by a group of 4 and 5 year old kids. “Is Levi okay?” “Levi, what’s wrong?” Wide eyed with concern, their faces were sweet and caring. No judgment. Not wondering why this kid was having a meltdown over something that was seemingly insignificant. Just care and concern. Just community.
Community. It can be such a beautiful and rewarding part of our lives. We desire it. We crave it! I think that there are three important things that we can grow and learn from the Pre-K community.
1. Community takes effort and sacrifice.
Just before we left for church that evening, my sweet, tired boy was lying on the couch, watching his favorite show. Shoes kicked off, relaxing, just being 4. At the first mention of getting shoes on and going to church, his response was that he wanted to finish his show…and he didn’t want to put his shoes on (me either, kid). I casually mentioned a few friends’ names and let him know that if he wanted to see them, he would need to put on his shoes so that we could leave. He perked up, said, “Oh! I want to see my friends!”, put on his shoes and turned off the show. For him, that was sacrifice. It took effort and a made up mind to do the things he didn’t feel like doing so that he could go to church and visit with his little tribe of Pre-K friends. For us grown-ups, this might look like allowing others into our homes, carving out time for coffee with a friend, or leaving the house, even when we don’t feel like it. Community may require some sacrifice and certainly some effort, but don’t doubt that it will be worth it.
2. Community is beautiful when judgment is withheld.
Community can be messy, when we meet each other in our weaknesses, not just our strengths. As I observed the wide eyed, pudgy cheeked faces peering at their friend in distress, I was struck with the genuine concern that I saw. There was no judgment for their friend that was causing a scene and struggling. There was only love. There were no sideways glances or rolled eyes. You know, any one of those sweet little faces may have been tear streaked just hours before when their day did not go as expected. They saw a friend in need, and they responded with love. For us, this will certainly mean that we reserve judgment and see the person, beyond a situation at hand. We may not always agree or have the same situational response as another person, but we can still love the soul of who they are and extend grace.
3. Community refreshes our souls.
When we left that evening, my son was all smiles. He had pushed through the “don’t wanna”s, been refined and encouraged, and ultimately experienced soul refreshment. It is GOOD to be involved in a community that supports, encourages, and cares. We were created for community, and we will be lacking without it.
Shout out to the 4 and 5 year old cuties, for the sweet and genuine display of community that I was honored to witness. We could all learn a few things from observing the pint-sized community of children, especially those that are young enough to not be tainted by the silly, presumptuous notions of grown-ups. Perhaps we should all be a bit more childlike in our care of others.
“Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
Hebrews 10:23-25 HCSB