Shuffling into my kitchen with a pile of groceries, I was surprised to find my daughter’s friend standing by the counter after school.
I smiled at her, breathless from dragging in the bags. “Hi! It’s nice to see you! But, I thought you were grounded…?”
“Oh, I am. Just not from your house.”
Hmmm. I wasn’t sure if that was good or bad.
“I thought you were grounded from everything.”
“My parents like it when I’m here. I’m never grounded from your house.”
My daughter and this dear friend had been buddies for three solid years. She called herself my fourth child, and insisted on placing her artwork in my dining room china cabinet next to my own kids’ artwork. During those years, we occasionally took her to church, arranged for her to go to church camp twice and she stayed overnight numerous times watching movies and just hanging out. I loved her spirit.
This friend grew from an adorable middle schooler in the 8th grade, to an increasingly restless sophomore in high school. Omitting the details, her choices made my daughter uncomfortable enough that eventually, they parted ways as friends, remaining occasional acquaintances. The friend leaving our school to attend another helped solidify that decision.
Recently, this lost friend sent two Twitter messages to my daughter after not speaking to her in nearly a year. One message read, ‘I saw a show about bunnies and was thinking about how we used to play with your pet bunny.’ The second message read, ‘Tell your Mom I sometimes pick up the bible she gave me and I do read it.’
What a moment. It was the truth that I tend to ignore, or find myself too busy to pay attention to: We affect the youth around us, whether the kids are in our life for three years or a single day.
I had forgotten about the brief conversations I had with this girl about faith, the importance of self-respect when dating guys, and so on. I definitely forgot that I handed her a bible one night.
My daughter reading the tweet made me think of the countless afternoons my kitchen is piled in with half the lacrosse team or field hockey team, coming over for quick one-hour snack and drink visits in between school ending and the 5pm games starting. While I expend effort to make sure the food is good and the music is on (these are high schoolers after all!), I am reminded that even the briefest words, the quick compliments, and gosh, sometimes just a smile is a gift to a teenager.
During the birthday parties, sleepovers, study groups and any other time kids are around the house, I will remember that God put these lives in my path. Even for those who might be in our family for a very short season, I must intentionally look at them, hear them and lift them up.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up…1 Thess 5:11