I can remember the third grade as if it was yesterday afternoon. I was standing in line, waiting to be chosen for one side or another in kick-ball or dodge ball. I was not exceptionally tall for my age. I did not play either game exceptionally well. While I do not remember ever going last, there were times when I was very near the end. I always remember being nervous, uncertain, and anxious. Even after I was chosen, I felt the need to prove myself, to know that I belonged. The feeling was never certain. I was never on the inside crowd.
The memories of my childhood are occasionally still fresh, decades later. Most of the time I am happy leaving them where they were on the shelf. I enjoy recalling the broad brushstrokes of that era. It is the details that get to me. I often wonder if there are those that I was instrumental in pushing or keeping last in line, if only to save myself. Was I the same as everyone else, simply watching out for number one?
I cannot do much about yesterday except when I become aware of a detail long forgotten. I can do something about the day that is in the process of coming alive. I can make sure that those who are last know they are as important as those who are first. I can reach out to those in need, even when they are unsure where they stand and how they fit. I can include everyone in the family. Each person has something to contribute while carrying a touch of uncertainty within.
Wisdom reminds me that the mantra for living includes this part of the call; “Make sure no outsider who now follows God ever has occasion to say, ‘God put me in second-class. I don't really belong.’ And make sure no physically mutilated person is ever made to think, ‘I'm damaged goods. I don't really belong.’” (Isaiah 56.3)
We are part of a big family. We can make the difference in how others know they belong.
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