A couple of weeks ago I saw on Facebook that the youth leader who ran the youth group during my not so graceful waltz in my faith, was leaving the church to move to another one. He gave a last lecture style talk and I really enjoyed his final sermon for the First Pres Houston Community. The thing he said that impacted me most, especially going into a new school year, is that he hoped that the youth group stayed as impartial as Forrest Gump.
Forrest Gump let anyone sit on the bench next to him. He loved people despite what they looked like, their race, a disability, if a traumatic experience caused them to be a certain way and even loved Jenny after she told him she had a terminal disease. He was a great example of wholehearted love.
When I started this year off in Beverly Hills Unifided School District. I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be challenged, that the next Babe Walker would be sitting in my office daily sharing her #whitegirlproblems with me. Though this has happened and one of the biggest issues in the 5th grade last week was who gets to play mancala with who at recess, I have also been working with the extreme special ed cases and my eyes have been open to a whole new world of struggles. I just have to remember to love on these kids the same.
Here is what this sermon and my new life in BH has reminded me of, I shouldn’t look at these kids like one is more special or one has it harder or one is weirder or one has nicer things so life is easier. I should let all of them sit next to me on the bench. Maybe we will talk, maybe we will play, maybe we will share a box of chocolates; it doesn’t matter as long as they know they are more than welcome to sit with me and that a little time together may make their day brighter.
This impartial love was modeled first by Christ, anybody can get a seat at his table, that kind of love has no match. As the youth leader said, “the gospel and people depend on that.”
“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.” -Deuteronomy 10:17
This isn’t just something youth ministers or school therapists should try and accomplish. The best way to reach people in general is to show impartial love. I’m not saying it’s easy, in fact, it’s terribly hard.
Because yes, I do like the little girls’ gumption who tried to start a sign up sheet to make the mancala game situation better (she reminds me of another sassy 5th grader I once knew) and I kind of hate little boy whose inclination is tell girls they are fat on the play ground. But my job both as a social worker and a person is to show these kids the same amount of love, even if the playground fat attack kid may need a little more effort. Just like you may need try harder with the coworker who always touches your screen when they are pointing something out on your computer.
Who will you let sit next to you on the bench? I’m challenging myself and you to try pulling a Forrest Gump every now and then, you never know who you’re gunna meet.