You know how, as a parent, you spend much of your time worrying about how much your kids' therapy will one day cost? If you say it's just me, I'll call you a liar. Sometimes, I get a break from that when my children give me a miraculous glimpse at the people they are growing up to be. It's simply incredible to think that I could have possibly had any hand in it in those moments.
There are several homeless men who attend our church on a regular basis. They are kindhearted, valuable people and I feel so blessed to be a part of a church who welcomes them with open arms. Everyone needs a place where they can feel welcome, loved and free to worship. Everyone. And that's something we want to instill in our children. We also want them to know that, even though we live a pretty simple life by American standards, they are spoiled. They are rich American kids. Plain and simple. They are exceedingly wealthy by the standards of most of the world in general, and even in our own posh country, there are plenty of people who have far less than they do. No matter why someone has less than us, there is no reason to feel superior. That's a hard thing to teach children and when one of them are screaming in the middle of a store because we refused to buy them a Pillow Pet (what is the big deal about those stupid things, anyway?), it's easy to think we've failed miserably.
Yesterday, at a church meeting after service, I noticed Gloria wander over to one of the homeless gentlemen (I hate using that to describe someone, but for the purposes of what I'm writing, it's the best I can come up with and still maintain the context) and strike up a conversation. I initially thought to myself, "Maybe I should go shuttle her away in case she says something offensive or something." But something told me to leave her alone and see what happened. They chatted for a few minutes as I talked to a friend. Then Levi wandered up to me and asked where his sister went. I pointed her out to him and he toodled over and joined in their conversation. I have no idea what the three of them talked about. That's really none of my business, I think.
Before you get all, "SAFETY!" on me. . . I'm not saying we should teach our children it's ok to just walk up to anyone and start chatting with them. This wasn't a situation that could be labeled "stranger danger." Let's keep in mind that we were in our church with people all around, I was within eyesight the whole time (as was my husband, both of our pastors and a hundred other people who love our kids and help look out for each other). This was a regular attender of our church she was talking to, not a stranger. She sees him every week in a safe place and has seen both of her parents talk with him. This was just notable because I'd never seen her having a conversation with him before.
When it was time to round the kids up and head up the hill to our ridiculously huge house full of fat pets and snack food, I lightheartedly apologized for having to steal away his little friends and wished our fellow churchgoer a blessed week. He said words to me that have been burned into my memory forever. "That little girl there will be a mighty fine preacher some day. And I have a feeling that little boy will too." I may never know what they talked about, but I know that so far, we have done a great job of raising these kids. By the grace of God, we have thus far kept this precious child from developing the mindset that would prevent her from thinking everyone is worth talking to. And she's passing that attitude of acceptance and love on to her little brother. And it shows.