We both sat down with a sigh. This was going to take awhile. Boxes full of pictures and mementos and lots of…well…just stuff. My mom had recently downsized her home and passed on all of these bits and pieces of the past. Now my sister and I were tasked with the job of going through all these things to determine which items I would keep, which she would take with her and which we would get rid of.

What began with one LARGE pile was soon reduced to multiple slightly smaller groupings resting on my dining room floor. “Oh look!” I said to my sister, “I love this old black and white photo.”  “Who is that?” she would ask, carefully examining the image. “I have no idea….” I would respond.  Great.  Lots of pictures of people we don’t recognize. And a few photos of those we do. Buried deep in a box we found some old vases and candy dishes. Now comes the guilt.

“I don’t really want this but I feel kinda’ bad just giving it away,” one of us says with a nose crinkled in consternation. Oh wait – it has a crack – one of us notices.  WHEW! We look at each other with relief. That one is going to get thrown away. After all, it is broken. No reason to keep it now.  Only ten more boxes to go…yay….

This month your kids are learning about FRIENDSHIP – using our words and actions to show others we care. This week we will be focusing on acceptance and the important role this plays in being friends to others. As I was preparing activities for this next Sunday, I thought more about this idea of “acceptance.” Why is this such an issue for kids? For adults for that matter?

When I was young, I saw people in two main groups. Those who had it “all together.” And those who didn’t. The “all together” group was WAY larger than the other. And most of the time it did not include me.  All too often I saw myself as broken. As not acceptable OR accepted. And it terrified me to draw attention to that brokenness by associating with OTHER broken people. So I didn’t.

Well, actually I did.  Looking back, I realize that, despite what I believed at the time, the people I spent time with, shared secrets with, went to church with, were broken too. ‘Cause we’re ALL broken. Some of our cracks and chips are easy to see. Others are buried deep down inside.  But they’re there, nonetheless.

We all vary in what we consider to be the unacceptable flaws and blemishes in those around us.  The interesting thing, however, is that the earlier in life we learn to view others through God’s eyes, the less we limit our associations and friendships to those who lack the issues which bother US the most. Kids who grow up living with and among those who look differently from them, sound differently from them and behave differently than them, all the while learning to enjoy all they bring to the figurative table, find it WAY easier to accept others, period.

That is our job as parents. To remind our kids we are ALL sinful and messy. And we have a God who gave His Son for us while we were still broken to allow us to His children.  And wants us to love and accept others just as He loves and accepts US.  And while we are at it, to embrace and celebrate the AMAZING qualities he gave to each of us – messy and imperfect people.

When my sister and I looked at that old vase, we saw something damaged and not worth keeping. When my mom looked at that old vase, however, I imagine she still sees it intact – full of purpose and beauty. The times it held flowers or candy. The times it made her smile.

May God help all of us to view others through His eyes.

Not as broken.

But beautiful.

Melinda Lamera
Sun Grove Children’s Ministry