School picture day is usually a highlight for most students. I remember standing in front of the bathroom mirror weeks before the anticipated day, practicing my smile. Big or half smile? Open or closed mouth? Which one is my best side? Don’t tell me I’m the only one out there who did this.
Earlier this week, our homeschool group held its annual picture day. Gabriel took his individual shots like a pro. We waited around for everyone else to finish, and then the call to gather all the children for the group picture came. This is when the tides began to turn. The children were told to line up from tallest to shortest. Obviously, the older children knew what to do, but the younger ones, like my kids, looked very lost and confused. The chatter amongst the adults and children grew louder, and when Gabriel tried to call me for help but I didn’t hear him, he started to lose it. Rearranging the students around is to be expected, but when the photographer kept changing the spot where Gabriel was to stand, that put him over the edge. In the middle of a sea of children, there was my Gabriel, frustrated and crying. God, please help me, I silently prayed as I tried to calm him down. When everything was done, the walk back to the car seemed endless. No longer able to hold back my own tears, I found myself wishing things were different.
What good came out of this? I asked God to open my eyes to see His good, the good that He promises to work together (Romans 8:28). My own tears seemed to blur any hint of good, but The Lord wiped the tears away and showed me.
During the incident when Gabriel was crying, a boy his age reached out to him. “It’s okay, Gabriel,” he comforted. Afterwards when the children dispersed, this boy approached Gabriel and gave him a hug. But my son wasn’t the only one who was the recipient of some needed encouragement. Two mothers approached me at the parking lot, hugged me, and prayed with me. This was the good that God intended from a difficult situation: He showed me love through the selfless actions of others.
When we see someone in emotional distress, it’s not always easy to approach that person. We don’t want to get involved. We are at a loss for words. We are fearful of making it more awkward and worse for that person and for us. Often, we find it easier to turn the other way. The boy and the mothers did the harder thing. They came to us. And we were blessed by it.
We turn toward others and move in their direction. That is how the kingdom of heaven works. Sin scatters people; grace draws us toward each other.*
*Quote by Edward T. Welch (biblical counselor and author)
(Photo credit: Holtsman)