A few years ago, we moved back to my husband's hometown. After being gone since he was 19, and left for college in another town, God brought him back home to the town where he was born and raised. His parents still live in the same house. My hubby now ministers at the church he grew up in. We are often blessed with stories of "when I was younger..." or "back in the day..." Stories of friends, school, bike rides through the neighborhood...
Unfortunately, like all towns, the part of town that once was considered family friendly and safe, changes when the new neighborhoods are built. The older part of town loses it's family friendly reputation, as buildings become abused through the years, run down and abandoned. The neighborhood we live in now, was once a nice neighborhood and although it is not completely run down now, still filled with beautiful older historic houses, there are a few old houses on the street that have seen better days. Sometimes I, as a mom, have to question the people that move into them. It is sad, but a parent can't be too careful these days.
When we first moved in, the two story house across the street was abandoned. It stood lonely, even kind of creepy at night. It reminded me of a ghost house, haunting in a way. And then, a little while back the owner decided to fix her up a little. A few new boards, a couple of windows, a new paint job, and she at least looked decent. However, nothing could hide her age. Between you and me, I think she is still a little unstable.
Yet, soon after a family moved in. A big family. Adults and kids of different ages are always coming and going. SEVERAL cars are always parked outside. It is the kind of situation that leaves a mom suspicious. However, my husband soon realized that he had met the "dad" before, so my tension eased a little. They have been there over a year now and I have learned to have peace over the situation. They pretty much leave us alone and that is fine by me...
Except for "Dalton" (Not his real name.) and his little brother.
Dalton is in 7Th grade, stout, a little bit taller than Jordan. When he talks he has a speech problem. When he talks you can tell that although he is older than my son, his intelligence level is quite a bit lower. He is rough around the edges, gets frustrated easy and probably has never owned a "brand name" anything. His little brother always looks like he hasn't had a bath in a week.
Dalton likes my son. He comes to the door and asks if his "friend" can come out and shoot hoops.
Jordan can't even go outside and shoot hoops anymore without Dalton and his brother running over to play with him. There are days that Jordan gets frustrated, not in the mood to deal with them. There are moments when he comes and whispers, "Come get me in a minute, mom, PLEASE!"
BUT, he NEVER hurts them. He is never mean. He patiently plays with them, teaching them how to play the different sports he loves. My kid, who for whatever reason is popular and well liked at school, can be found playing any day of the week, with a neighborhood kid, who by worldly standards would be considered undesirable. Would Jordan consider Dalton a "good friend?" Probably not. He would probably just simply say "He is my neighbor and we play ball together sometimes." Yet, to Dalton, Jordan is considered "friend." My son has showed extreme kindness, in a situation that many boys his age would avoid. He goes out of his way NOT to embarrass Dalton or hurt his feelings.
Moments like this one, do my mommy heart good. You pray daily, as a Christian parent, that your children will be lights in a dark world and then when they do something like this, you are humbled beyond belief. Children can be so cruel sometimes. My own children are far from perfect themselves, so when they do something so out of the ordinary, it makes this mom stop and take a closer look.
As I look out the kitchen window, my spirit is scolded. I have got caught up in the world's view of what makes a people lovable and acceptable. As I watch the kids shoot baskets, I realize that my son has been acting more like Jesus than his mom these days. How quick am I to judge? Where is my compassion? Maybe I am looking at this all wrong. Instead of being concerned with who my neighbors are, maybe I should be more concerned with what kind of neighbor I am.
Truthfully, these two boys will probably never be best friends. And yes, I still worry a little (they always play at our house.) But at the end of the day, I learned by watching my son the last few months, that a little kindness and compassion can go a long way. It might not always mean that much to us, we tend to take some things for granted at times, but to the person on the receiving end, it could mean a whole lot. To someone else, a little friendship, could mean a little light in someone's dark world.
And sometimes God has a sense of humor and allows a child's action to teach a mom's heart.