I wrote this post on Monday about how much our kids need friendships that are more than surface deep and focus on the important things. I had no idea that on Tuesday I was going to get to watch just how powerful those friendships can be.
I took my older daughter to the doctor yesterday morning. She hurt her knee playing soccer Saturday night, and after a couple of days of watching her try to convince me it was fine, I decided it was time to get an expert opinion.
The doctor took X-rays and moved her knee around a bit. Then he said the words every soccer player dreads hearing: "I think it might be your ACL." My daughter heard those three little letters, and for her, the world stopped spinning. An ACL tear is one of the worst injuries that can happen to a soccer player. It's surgery and months of rehab. Recovery time is nine months.
Now, we don't know for sure that my daughter's is torn. We go in on Monday for an MRI to find out, but just the possibility of an ACL tear devastated my daughter. She has worked so hard to play soccer at the level at which she plays it. She's sacrificed other activities, family time, sleepovers and junk food. She loves playing soccer more than she loves doing anything else in the world.
We made it out of the doctor's office before she burst into tears. I gave her some time to get herself back together before taking her back to school. During that time, I texted a friend of mine who is the mom of a couple of my daughter's friends. Within minutes, there were texts on my daughter's phone simply commiserating with her. They were short (both kids were in school) but they were enough that my daughter didn't feel totally alone.
When my daughter got home from school, she was still pretty upset. But then I got to watch something beautiful and amazing. My daughter has three friends (the two who texted her earlier and a girl on her soccer team) who really understand what this type of injury means for someone like her. And I watched all evening as they showered her with texts commiserating with her, encouraging her and reminding her that God is a good God, and He's got even this covered.
The maturity and wisdom these friends showed in encouraging my daughter, and the love they poured out on her were truly awesome. I watched my daughter go from ugly-cry devastated to feeling like she could handle the situation -- all because her friends had her back.
Never underestimate the power your kids have to make a difference. So often, we hear about kids bullying each other or about the mean girls who gossip about everything. What we often miss, though, is that our kids have just as much power to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this world. And it doesn't take a lot of money or time. It just takes caring and being willing to reach out.
My daughter is an introvert. She's pretty shy. It takes time to get to know her. These friends have invested that time. They've pushed through some of the walls she puts up to keep the world out. Yesterday, I watched her friends ask her how she felt. I watched my daughter pour out her frustration and fears, something that she won't do with just anyone. Those moments of vulnerability gave her friends the opening to remind my daughter that God is in control and that her friends are there to help.
When we teach our kids to be good friends, when we teach them to push beyond the surface, we're teaching them to love each other like God loves them. We're teaching them to let God use them to reach other people.
I doubt any of those three kids yesterday was thinking about being "God with skin on" to my daughter. They were simply loving her through a rough time. But what they did yesterday is what I think Jesus had in mind when He told us "As I have loved you, so you must love one another" (John 13:34).
And I think we can all learn a lot from their example.