Children are usually some of the world’s best teachers. They teach us with their innocence, their bravery, their humor, and their love. One of the best lessons children teach us is how to be a friend and how to be kind. When my own kids were going to childcare before elementary school, they considered everyone in their class to be their friend. I know their childcare teachers helped to encourage this by calling all their classmates their friends. This showed them from an early age that everyone could be their friend, not just one or two people that they really liked to play with. My daughter, who is in 2nd grade now, continues to consider all of her classmates her friends. When I’ve asked her about her friends, she often answers that everyone in her class is her friend. Of course, she has a few closer friends that she plays with more often at recess, or a neighbor that can easily come over to play. Just this week, she reminded me of this by saying, “Remember the rule, Mom? Everyone is a friend. We all may not play with each other every day, or do everything the same, but we can still be friends.” I was so blessed to hear her words of acceptance and kindness to all.
It would be great if we could continue this throughout our whole lives. But at some point, for most of us, this view on friendships starts to change. We start to not only notice differences, but we may even point them out, and sometimes even in a negative or harsh way. We start to put ourselves and others into groups. And for some reason, sometimes these groups put themselves up against each other because of differences, instead of accepting one other. And when people hurt us with their judgments, then the cycle of hurt and unkindness shows up.
One of the ways we can overcome this cycle of hurt and judgment is to think about how God sees us and others. He accepts and loves all of us unconditionally. And if we can truly start seeing each other as a child of God, then we may realize in a deeper way, that we can be friends. We can show kindness. We can take a look to see others as God sees them. So today, see others the way God sees them. And remember “the rule.” Everyone is a friend. We all may not play with each other every day or do everything the same. But we can still be friends.
Help us accept each other as Christ accepted us; teach us as sister, brother, each person to embrace.
Be present, Lord, among us, and teach us to believe we are ourselves accepted and meant to love and live. – United Methodist Hymnal 560
– Amy Givens, Director of Youth Ministry