Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Taste (07/15/10)
TITLE: Taste of Friendship
By Leslie Aune
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From the time he was a baby, I never had to worry about what Travis would put in his mouth. He simply did not put anything in his mouth that was not food or drink. I had four years without this worry before our second child came along. Allison explored the world by tasting everything. I had to work extra hard keeping tiny toys out of reach and teaching her not to put everything that she came across in her mouth.
As my children continue to grow I see this same approach crossover to their friendships. Travis is more selective in his choices. He is quiet and observant, often mistaken for shy. This reserved nature caused some consternation at first with the ladies at church and I received much advice on how to help him out of his “shyness”. My dad, who is a lieutenant with 40 plus years of law enforcement experience, told me, “Leave it alone. That will be his saving grace as a teenager.” My son is 13 now and he is still careful with letting friends into his life. I have watched him form a group of solid friends over the years that I am pleased to have in my home for hanging out, parties, and sleepovers.
My daughter, on the other hand, approaches friendship with a wide open heart. Everyone is her friend. At four, she was convinced that all her friends knew each other. One summer we visited some friends for the week and Allison said to Kallie, “You know the Owens family, of course.” Kallie didn’t. It through Allison for a loop when she realized her friends, who lived 6 hours apart, didn’t actually know each other. It took her a couple of days to work that one out in her mind.
Both these approaches have its plus and minuses. Travis does not do well in large groups, we homeschool him and keep his many activities with smaller groups of boys his age. Of course, when we have all of his friends over for a party we end up with about 15 teenage boys hanging out. What fun times those are! I respect and admire how he carefully selects his friends, but his heart tends to grow hard towards those who do not qualify for the role of his friend. So we work with Travis on combining grace with his discernment.
Allison attends the elementary across the street. Each grade is broken down into several classes but each grade has its recess time after lunch. It is then that Allison embraces the whole grade and over the last few yeas has come to know nearly everyone: what shoes they wear, who their teacher is, and their likes and dislikes, on and on. Allison’s loving and gracious spirit shines through and she is a light for Jesus wherever she goes. In 2nd grade one particular girl was constantly saying mean things to Allison. This was hard for her but it gave us the opportunity to teach wisdom in selecting close friends. The next year this same girl had some difficult days that led her to tears at recess and I found out later that Allison had spent some time comforting and encouraging her. Oh, what grace!
Watching these two build their friendships, has reminded me that the taste of friendship should include love and grace as well as wisdom and discernment. As we carefully select our closest friends and respond to others kindly, this enables us to confidently walk out Jesus’ command to “love one another . . . [so that] all men will know that you are my disciples. . .” (John 13:34-35 NIV)
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