This week I am volunteering at the church’s annual Vacation Bible School week. Abby and Emily participate in the activities while Alex and I are in charge of the snack station. The children are all divided into groups based on ages, preschool, pre-k and kindergarten, first through third and then fourth through sixth. Following some opening songs and entertainment, the kids all travel with their groups from station to station that include crafts, outdoor games, Bible story and snack.
I have started to know some of the kids that I was not as familiar with and have been told many a story. Today I was informed that one little boy does not ever like oranges and another will not each cheese that is orange in color. I was also taught that “on purpose” means you wanted to do something and some people still need to wear underwear with their swimsuits. Yesterday I had a conversation with one little boy that got me thinking.
“Hello, who are you?” He asked me sternly.
“I am Mrs. Foreman, who are you?”
He thought, “Well I am Patrick. I like Thomas the Tank Engine, but people at school laugh at me.”
“Well, I like Thomas the Tank Engine, too. He is a very useful engine.” I replied.
He looked at me inquisitively and then began to quote and ask about each episode I may or may not have seen. He knew those shows inside and out and even owned the golden engine. Thankfully for me, Emily had recently taken an interest in the show and I had seen a few episodes.
What really bothered me about the conversation was of course that he is made fun of for liking the show and character. He appeared to be in 2nd grade and I could understand why some kids might not like the show anymore, but why tease someone who does? Have you ever noticed that as children we mock the different and as adults we strive to be the different?
While at a Women of Faith Conference a few years ago, Andy Andrews said something that will stick with me forever. He stated that if two people were exactly the same that would render one of them useless. As adults we realize that different ideas and opinions are good and in fact necessary to make society function. However, as children we desire to fit in to the extent we will point out anyone who does not in order to make ourselves part of the group.
The truth is as humans, we are all not that different. We all breathe, eat and function in roughly the same manner. Our thoughts and mannerisms may differ and our culture may create different foods, traditions, or skin colors, but innately we are all the same. We all desire to be loved, cared for and respected. We all want to be recognized as smart and helpful and we all hope to be seen as a very “useful engine”.
Thankfully, God sees us all for who we are. Despite what this world might see or think they see, God can delve into the depths of our heart and see us for who we are. Though we may be mocked as children or try desperately to be noticed as adults, we are always special and wonderful in God’s eyes and always a welcome part of His family.
Thank you, Lord for making me a very useful engine and part of the team.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)