This past week I encountered a really special little boy.
He wore clothes that were different from everyone else’s.
Instead of talking about who likes who and video games, he talked about books and dragons.
He couldn’t make eye contact when he spoke to you.
And he was bullied.
After welcoming me with a hug, and being laughed at by some other boys, the first words he said to me were “Do you know what it’s like to have everyone to be mean to you?”
My heart sank. I didn’t have an answer. Because no, I don’t know what it’s like. He told me about how other kids made fun of him and ran away from him on the playground. I don’t know what it’s like to be treated that way.
The even more depressing thing is, this boy was so kind. He was smart. He was sweet and compassionate. And none of the other children will ever see those things. They’re too worried about superficial things, material things.
His talents are overlooked because he’s different.
He’s treated unfairly because he doesn’t act like the other kids.
I haven’t been in this boy’s place. But I have been on the other side. I’ve overlooked someone who seemed different than me. I may have avoided conversation with someone who doesn’t look like me. I have judged before I really knew. We all do.
But y’all, if God placed them on this Earth (which he did), they are special. They are valuable. No one deserves to be pushed aside. No one deserves to be forced to hide themselves away because they’re afraid of how others will treat them. No one should have to feel ashamed of the way they look. No one should have to feel ashamed of who they are. God has placed something special inside everyone and it’s devastating that they may never get to share it because we’re all too focused on appearances and material things.
We’re called to love.
That’s the commandment: love.
Not: love people who are easy to love.
Not: love people who love you back.
(and definitely) Not: love people who look and act like you do.
Why is it hard for us to reach out to those that are different than us? Why we do we shrink away from people who look a little different or talk a little different? Everyone deserves to be treated with love, and everyone deserves to know how valuable they are. It doesn’t matter what they’re wearing, how they are acting, or how they talk. “Everyone” includes the strange man sitting on the side of the road, the girl who sits alone in the corner of the classroom and this 9 year old boy who’s just a little different. “Everyone” includes the poor, the lonely, and the different ones. No one should feel like they are invaluable because we can’t look past our differences to see their worth. They deserve kindness. They deserve to know that they’re existence is meaningful.
God loves us despite our strange quirks and weird habits. God sees the value in us despite what we look like on the outside. It’s our calling and our responsiblity to give the same unconditional love to everyone we encounter.
John 13:34 // John 7:2 // Ephesians 4:32