The following playground scene occurred this week in our town, a scene that has been repeated on playgrounds since the dawn of time, a scene that won’t make the evening news – but one that has a profound impact on each child involved, nevertheless. My child relayed it to me, and I know it all too well. I can even see it in my mind’s eye.
ACT I : The curtain rises and lights go up on stage.
A small group of girls is happily playing together, the world of make-believe powerful enough to render them oblivious to any other children around them. All is well.
Another girl approaches. She’s “different” and not very well-liked for various reasons. She is all alone.
“Can I play, too?” she asks them.
“NO! You can’t!” says one of the girls in the in-group. “BEAT IT!” she adds, for good measure, an extra-mean line that she no doubt picked up from TV.
Dejected, the “different” girl begins to walk away. Uncomfortably silent, the other girls watch her go.
One of the girls feels a prick in her heart. It’s not right, she thinks to herself. But it’s easier not to say anything. What if they get mad at me? But I feel so sorry for her!
With the rejected one out of earshot, the conflicted one decides to stand up to the mean one. “We should not treat her that way just because she is not like us. We should let her play,” she says. She walks over to the excluded one and reaches out to include her.
The curtain falls and the story ends, but only for that particular day. Tomorrow they will all embark upon Act II, Scene I – awkwardly building on all the days that preceded it. The girls in that drama are only just beginning to learn how to interact with others apart from adult intervention, an intense prospect indeed. You can probably identify with one of those kids - or maybe even all of them at various times in your own life.
The Rejected One. Uncool and overlooked.
The Mean One. Cruel and insecure.
The Timid Ones. Intimidated and uncomfortable.
The Brave One. A leader for the good.
Even adults act it out all the time. Not nearly as overtly as the kids do, but the playground drama of old manifests itself in unexpected ways in the grown-up world, too, yet another way that children naturally prepare themselves and practice for what is to come…
…and it reminds me how much we need grace.
Grace for ourselves, and grace to extend to others. At all times, and in all manner of circumstances. Grace to bear rejection and trials. Grace to soften harsh tongues. Grace to give us courage to speak up and reach out. And grace to follow through – because those who stand for the good are often maligned. There’s only one place it comes from.
“But He gives us more grace,” says James 4:6. God gives it! A never-ending supply is in Him, a well of water to draw upon. Without it, our inner resources run dry and crumple. But somehow, in ways I don’t fully understand but have fully experienced, with His grace…we can stand.
May you stand in His grace today.