Life, at times, can appear overwhelming. As we travel this path of seemingly never ending hardship, disaster and proverbial downs, it’s difficult to keep sight of the positive things surrounding us. Recently, my community suffered the loss of one of our major businesses — this on the feet of recent historic disasters left many with the inner feeling of how much more can one be asked to bare.
While scrolling through photographs, reminiscing about all of the good times my family have enjoyed at the business, I came across a photo that not only brought a smile to my face, but likewise a calmness to my heart. The photo was simply a shot my wife had taken of my youngest daughter and I. Captured within the content of the photo was a father resting on his child while she was deeply engaged in viewing the latest video she so enjoyed.
As I viewed the photograph, I was reminded about the importance of meeting others at their time and place of not only need, but of enjoyment. Many times, we become self centered and merely wish to engage in things that we wish to do and we forget about the importance of reciprocating joy and embarking upon true interaction outside our preferred realm.
While engaged in my graduate-level studies, I recall learning about the importance of getting on your children’s level and taking the time to play their games. This willingness shows the child that they, and the things they choose to do, has importance to the parent and hence establishes validity. I believe the concept goes much deeper than merely showing importance.
As a young youth minister in Aurora, Colorado, I remember speaking to young people about our program and all of the adults who chose to help with events, outings and meetings. I recall one specific group of young people who described that certain leaders cared about them and some did not. Interested in understanding, I inquired as to why they felt certain leaders didn’t care for them. That was when one young lady simply said ... “because you love us.”
The fact that I cared for the children was not a revelation more was it not readily viewable, but what set me back was the fact that the kids felt the other leaders did not care.
Feeling the children were incorrect at their assertion, I asked them to tell me why they felt that way, and one of the young ladies simply said, “because you spend time with us ... your time shows your love.”
Life itself is a series of choices. How we decide to engage with others, although on the surface bears very little significance, really has utmost importance. As with a father resting on the lap of his child while she is engaged shows a willingness to become secondary to her desire for connection.
The mother playing on the floor with her son as they hold action figures and trucks, a skill she may not have perfected and truly doesn’t enjoy, holds major significance to her offspring.
Likewise, taking the time to engage those around you in their favorite moment and ventures can enhance our ability to create community and ultimately show others their choices are important and valid. For it is when we are quick to engage, slow to disrupt, and willing to explore that true love and understanding can result.
Don’t be afraid to hit the floor, play some games and meet others at their place of joy. In doing so, we will find true healing and lasting understanding that although life can be cruel at times, the future is bright and open for adventure.
Trust me, being a table, even for a moment in time, is the most awesome thing.
Richard J. Stephens lives in Carter County and is the father of three little ladies ranging in age from eight to 29.