Third grade honors day was held yesterday at the Christian School my children attend.It was a big day in our household because it represented so much more than the pride we felt for the certificates awarded or the accomplishments recognized for our oldest son, Chase. It embodied a year of unexpected change and unsolicited transition on the behalf of an eight year old who was perfectly happy, accepted and loved in his community in South Carolina.
Chase didn't ask to be taken from his closest friends Hunter, Wilson and Thomas, buddies he has known since diapers. Or from the church that watched him waddle, then toddle, to the front pews to listen to the children's sermon from a pastor who knew him by first name name. He had never experienced the feeling of not belonging, not fitting in, or wondering who he would sit next to at lunch.
He went from being the invited to the uninvited.
The move to a new community has been challenging in a number of different ways, but none as difficult as having to watch from afar as your child is forced to find his way among peers all on his own.
Many times I wanted to step in, to visit his classroom, and list on the white board all the reasons the children in his class should be thrilled to have him as a friend. "He's so funny and kind and loyal. He is fun and creative and wild. WHY CAN'T YOU SEE THIS?" I wanted to scream.
But just like Chase had been with the same friends since he was little, these children had known each other for just as long. It would take time and patience and a whole lot of prayer and trust that God would help Chase find his place.
And He has been faithful.
While we are pleased about what Chase has accomplished academically, we are most proud of the person he is becoming. A child who wants to be more like Jesus, who knows from where his strength and courage comes, and a friend to all when there is none to be found.
During the ceremony, John and I both had joyful tears in our eyes as we watched our brave, fabulous son accept his awards, and then return to his seat among new friends, who clapped and cheered for the new boy who was now one of them. We were particularly touched when, in addition to being recognized with academic excellence, Chase received the Christian Biblical Character Award of David and Jonathan for - you guessed it- friendship.
"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls for he has no one to help him up." Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NKJV)