We walked along the track at our neighborhood high school – Harlandale High. Training for a half marathon comes with much dedication.* The evening was warm because a September in south Texas are what we call a “second summer.”
A young man with special needs hesitantly crossed the track toward a group of boys near the field house. The boys were gathered, tossing a football, making up plays, laughing through hypothetical touchdowns.
The young man made his way toward us seemingly interested in our puppy. When he got closer I offered, “Would you like to pet him?”
He smiled and motioned his hands in a “no” gesture. He swayed them toward the group of boys. We watched as the young man approached the boys. In a non-verbal manner, he made them comprehend that he wanted to play football as well.
The boys immediately huddled up, tossed the ball, and got the young man to pass. I’ve never seen a bigger smile on a boy’s face. Four other boys joined and they ran a few plays.
As we approached our third lap, the young man quickly walked back across the field to a car which was waiting for him. He high-fived the boys and waved at some along his way to the vehicle. Each boy waved and high-fived in response. That is joy.
Joy is feeling welcome no matter your circumstance. Joy is sharing in simple, everyday pleasures.
I admire the mother who trusts God with her most precious gift when she drops him off to have fun with the guys, to allow him a life of sameness.
Friend, I was quick to judge the boys at that field house. I thought, “But what if they don’t treat him fairly?” The mama bear in me took a protective stance. I stared at them the entire time. And they shattered my perception.
To the mother who trusts God with her child, I admire you. I am slowly but surely getting there. I’ve come a long way.
To the mother who raised those boys to respect their fellow peers, I admire you. How hard you must work to instill those values each and every day.
Today, I choose joy.