Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

Is My Daughter Too Kind? Sweet? Friendly?

on October 3, 2014

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(photo: Tabitha with her sweet friends Scarlet and Eden)

It happened at the play area in McDonalds today (I hate McDonalds but my little one loves the play area). It was busy and there were lots of kids running about and climbing through the colorful mishmash of fun. I could see my daughter interacting with other kids and hear her sweet words saying, “Hi. My name is Tabitha. Want to play with me?” This isn’t odd for her. She is usually outgoing and quick to make friends. She rarely needs encouragement to introduce herself.

As I watched and listened, taking sips from my diet coke (yes, I know it’s bad), I witnessed an encounter that just breaks a mother’s heart. My daughter was attempting to play with an older kid and his sister. She said to them, “you are my new friends.” The insensitive older boy replied, “we’re not your friends.” Taking his sister’s hand, he led her away to play elsewhere.

Ugh. My heart sank for my sweet girl. In her eagerness to reach out and make a friend, she had been shot down. I hurt for her, knowing her feelings had been hurt. I wanted to sweep her up in my arms and give dirty looks to that rude kid, but I knew that these kinds of things are just a part of life, and particularly of a Christian’s life. You see, she made herself very vulnerable. She put herself out there. She was kind and friendly. She was welcoming and warm. In return, she was slighted. It happens. As a Christian, I understand that on a deeper level and am willing to let her experience it so that she too may be an effective follower of Jesus some day.

We are supposed to be vulnerable. We are called to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute, reach out to the lost and angry, and minister to whomever God puts in front of us. We are supposed to love the unlovely. We are called to show grace and mercy, and we are supposed to love freely as Jesus did. He’s our example. He loved. His love and kindness made Him stand out. People were drawn to His kindness and love, and when we walk like Jesus, they will be drawn to Him by seeing His love in us.

What my daughter experienced today made me so sad for her. As we got into the car, I explained to her that some people were not ready to be kind to others or make new friends. I tried to explain in the simplest terms that it was wonderful for her to be kind and to offer friendship to others and that his rejection was only because he didn’t know how to be kind or even that he should. I assured her that she was a great friend and that anyone would be blessed to have her as a friend, but that sometimes people reject our friendship because they have their own problems and they take it out on us.

Maybe it was a little deep, but I wanted to use it as a teaching experience. As I pondered the event, I started to wonder if perhaps I was wrong to raise Tabitha to be friendly and warm. Maybe I had taught her to be too friendly? Too kind? Too open-armed? Perhaps I should toughen her up, like the rest of the world? After all, she is so vulnerable when she puts herself out there. She opens up her heart to hurt and rejection. She leaves herself wide open to disappointment. The world is creating kids who are tough as nails, what with all of the divorce, violence, drugs, etc. Maybe I should teach Tabitha not to make new friends and to make people earn her love rather than giving it freely? Maybe I should encourage her to be cold, critical and selective?

No. I won’t.

This world has too many cold people already. The world has too many tough and scarred kids. The world is overflowing with kids who are rude, disrespectful, mean, arrogant, insensitive and unloving. We need no more conceit, cruelty or rejection. Enough!

What we need in this world is for children (and adults for that matter) to walk like Jesus. Speak like Jesus. Love like Jesus. Be wiling to suffer the consequences like Jesus. Jesus loved and was despised. He was warm and welcoming, and He was rejected. He gave of Himself and they mocked Him. He offered Himself as a sacrifice and still people refuse to accept His gift of salvation. Our Savior showed us all how we are supposed to live, and yet we are often too afraid of rejection, persecution and disappointment to make ourselves vulnerable to love those He puts in our path without reservation.

I guess that’s what I love most about Jesus. He never hesitated to accept and love the people He encountered. My daughter reminded me today of what that can look like for us. She offered friendship and was rejected. Her beautiful heart felt that pain, and I wanted to take it away. I really did. Yet I know that my daughter, in offering love so freely, is far more like Jesus than I am. What a lesson in love. May we all be more vulnerable and continue loving people, whether or not they accept us, because some will. Some will be moved by our love, warmth and acceptance and will fall in love with Jesus as they see Him in us.

My daughter will experience more pain in her life, but I feel confident that the Lord is going to use her mightily. So I will comfort her, learn from her about offering simple love and pray that the Lord never changes that beautiful part of her heart.

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4 responses to “Is My Daughter Too Kind? Sweet? Friendly?

  1. Kelly says:

    I used to tell my Valerie, if other children are not kind to you on the playground or at school, they are most likely having issues in their own life. When someone is mean to you, you need to remember to pray for them and their family. In retrospect (she is now 28), I think this advise helped; it taught her not to internalize the unkind remarks or treatment as personal but instead to direct her to her knees to pray for someone else and their needs whether known or unknown. (Matt 5:44) I love acrostics and one of my favorite is J.O.Y. (Jesus, Others, then Yourself)…I think this helps us to stay away from the ‘woes me’ syndrome that seems to affect so many people nowadays when life is unfair, and we know life is most unfair. This mindset has assisted so many times in my life and keeps me centered and grounded. Thank you for your sweet blog Chelsea.

  2. Mary Collins says:

    My heart ached for your daughter as I read your post. I have twin brother who autistic and was much like your daughter when we were little. He spent most of our younger years in schools with children like himself. As we approached our preteen years it was decided he should be mainstreamed with the “normal” kids. They destroyed him. Ridiculed him unmercifully. It changed his personality permanently. He stopped reaching out to people. Eagerly introducing himself to people to make friends. He is mentally unable to understand what you are teaching your daughter. You stay the course. We need more children and adults that walks this earth and lives their lives as Jesus did.
    Be blessed,
    Mary

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