Lately it’s becoming more and more clear. I have the weird kid. You know the one. He doesn’t get picked for teams, kids change seats or tell him someone else is going to sit there if he finds an open chair. The kind that does even weirder things under pressure. Things like make sudden loud noises. Or make strange faces. He regularly invades personal space. He doesn’t have much body awareness so while he thinks of himself like a tiny chihuahua he is much more a bull in a china shop. But, he really loves people. All people. Well except for his brothers some of the time, and me if I tell him to put toys away or go to bed, but….In general he loves everyone. He is so excited to see the same kids that are anything but excited to see him. He used to be oblivious to their slights, but now he notices. And it’s breaking his heart. Last night he prayed that his friends would like him. And I cried.
It made me think of times in my life when I just haven’t fit in. When I’ve felt like people just didn’t ‘get me’. Sometimes it’s made me feel bad about myself, other times it’s made me feel bad about them. But, when I get to the heart of the matter it doesn’t have to do either. The first time I was aware of it I was about Ben’s age. I wrote about it here. During my adolescence, I changed myself so that the ‘not weird’ kids would accept me. It was a choice, something I worked very hard at. It worked, but I really regretted it. I quickly figured out that if I couldn’t be me I didn’t want their acceptance after all. Then I began to feel bitter toward them. It happened again when I was a young mom and found that people didn’t understand my parenting, my personality, or my kids. I, like Ben, found myself praying that my friends would like me. Then I realized that if people didn’t like me, they weren’t actually my friends. That seems like the obvious, I know, but occasionally it takes me longer than it should to deal with reality. But this time instead of getting bitter, I set out to open my eyes, and my heart to the people who would accept me. I also began to be aware of other people that were looking for a friend. Most of the people who have made the biggest imprint on my heart and forever changed my life are the ones that others considered weird. The ones that many found easier to overlook than to understand.
I pray that Ben will also find friendship in unexpected people. That he will appreciate everyone, but realize that he doesn’t have to have their acceptance to be worthy of friendship. That he won’t give in to the temptation to be bitter towards the ones that say or do mean things, but instead that he will be himself to everyone. His loving, excitable, and yes, weird self. To the ones who get him, and to the ones who don’t. I am grateful for the ones who love him already and I pray for the people who will come into his life and get to receive all of the imagination, hilariousness, loyalty, and the endless squeezy hugs that this kid can give. I hope he always looks not just to have a friend but to be a friend. And, I hope I keep doing the same.
“A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17a