Monday, May 12, 2008

Sitting at the Kid's Table - Lesson Learned Series

Recently I had a chance to spend some time with my extended family at a graduation. My sister in law received her Master’s Degree, and several members of the family were in attendance to witness this milestone in her life.

The graduation ceremony went very well, the singers, the readers, the testimony givers and everyone involved in the program did their jobs without a hitch. The message that was delivered by the College President was concise and straight to the point; it was shaping up to be an awesome day of celebration.

The Graduates were each called by name to walk across the stage to receive a piece of parchment that costs thousands of dollars, and I’m sure countless hours.
I remember sitting there taking it all in, listening to the cheers when the family members of the named graduate walked across the stage, and watching the scurry of the designated picture taker as she got in the perfect spot to snap the shot when her family member or friend’s name was called.

It was fun for me to watch all of this going on in the crowd, and it made me think of how much each graduate must be loved, and appreciated.
I mean if they weren’t why would they be there? Why would family and friends brave terrible weather, long distances, crowded roads, and less than comfortable chairs to sit and watch them walk across a stage?

Why? Because they’re known, loved, appreciated and on this particular day…Respected!

It made me think of another very special occasion in my household growing up, where everything on the outside said “we love you, appreciate you and respect you”, but based on the actual appearance of things and actually the configuration of the table and chairs; a very different message was being communicated.

I’m talking about Thanksgiving Dinner, at my Grandma & Grandpa’s house, sitting at the Kid’s Table!

You know the kid’s table don’t you? It’s the broken down, rickety old, cob web covered card table that your grandparent’s drag out each and every year for occasions like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and Graduation celebrations.

In theory I understand the concept of the Kid’s Table; its purpose is to provide a place for the young ones because the big table doesn’t have enough room. Ok, I understand that it’s usually due to a space or seating issue that the kid’s table is needed, but let’s think a moment about what message it’s sending.

Here are a few potential messages that the kid’s table is sending to those sitting at it…

· You’re a second class citizen (only the adults matter around here)
· You’re not worthy of the succulent delicacies present at the big table (bologna, fruit salad and sippy cups compared to Turkey, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy and all the trimmings)
· Your opinion isn’t important (I mean when is the last time a member of the kid’s table has ever interjected a discussion topic that enhances the spiritual, emotional, and mental capacities of those lounging at the big table?)
· You have to reach a certain age and or height to be deemed worthy of the big table (much like many young people are treated when they want to step up and step out in a leadership role)

Now, I’m just having a little fun with this whole kid’s table thing because after all, I was given food, drink, comfort and surrounded by family during each and every gathering. I surely didn’t miss many meals, so I’m not really complaining, just pointing out that fact that I think we need to be careful that what we say matches up with what we truly believe, because messages can easily be misinterpreted if we’re not careful.

Each and every kid’s table experience for me came with "sippy cups and bologna", but also came with hugs, kisses, and words of encouragement from family members who loved me.

What if I didn’t have that? What if I was left to decipher what I was seeing, as a reality statement from those around me? Statements like “You don’t matter”, “Your opinion doesn’t count” and “You’re a second class citizen” would start to trickle down into my psyche, and as they say “perception becomes reality.” I would’ve been in a bad place mentally and spiritually that’s for sure.

So, as I process a very cool graduation ceremony for a very special member of my family, where I saw love, appreciation, community, and respect put on display, I'm thinking about the messages spoken or unspoken that I'll send to my son as he graduates from Kindergarten in a few weeks.

I’m just so thankful that God is there with camera in hand, ready to let out a cheer when our name is called and we walk across the stage, whether it's kindergarten or for our Phd.

He loves us, accepts us, and has prepared a place for us.
In fact there is plenty of room at His banqueting table. I don’t believe there is a Kid’s Table with Him, we’re all welcome and encouraged to bring friends, because there’s plenty to go around!
Lesson Learned

1 comment:

  1. its so true. i myself was never in the "kids table" cuz i was the only kid in the family gathering most of the time. but you do have to watch what you do and say cuz it matters. i thank God i have a loving mom who loves me and cares for me, if it wasent for her, i would not be where i am today.