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 Once when I picked up my son Leo, now 6 years old, from preschool, his teacher asked to have a word with me — in private. I immediately felt sick. The part of me that needs everything to be perfect was riddled with anxiety. What now, I thought? 

My son is wild, but also an old soul, always questioning everything he’s told. He’s always been … different and society isn’t always kind to those who are different.

So when his teacher asked to speak with me, I was certain it was another instance of him correcting someone’s grammar or talking about the angel of death again (in a secular school).

“A friend bit Leo today,” she said. 

Friends don’t bite friends, I thought to myself. I asked, “Who? Who bit him?”

“A friend,” she said, “but he’s OK.” This must have been my son’s cue to emerge from the playground, smiling and laughing, waving his bandaged arm. I said a few things about how biting was unacceptable, and then walked my smiling son out of the school. I wasn’t smiling.

I sat him on a bench. I was going to get to the bottom of this. And whoever bit him — that kid’s family was going to pay.

“Who bit you? Tell me now,” I pressured him...“Oh, it was just Ari! I’m OK, Mama!”

My ears began to ring. I was ready to let some unsuspecting parent of a psychopath kid who had bitten my son have it. But it was Ari who had bitten my son. Ari, one of his best friends and the child of two of our favorite parents at the school — a family with whom we had begun to forge a deep friendship.

I was deflated. But it was an important lesson about community and a critical moment of self-reflection for me.

I realized that when we take the time to get to know others in our orbit — when we build community — we are less likely to respond to minor grievances with rage. We are more inclined to work through issues with people we consider one of our own than we are with people outside of our circles.

It’s been a few years since Ari bit Leo, but I think of it all the time, and it reminds me to reach out to people with whom I come into contact and to get to know them. It reminds me that the responsibility is mine, and it forces me to pause when I’m about to get angry about a comment on social media or about a story my son tells me about something an unknown child did or said at school. Being part of a community can feel good, but it’s about more than simply giving us a sense of belonging. In an increasingly divided society, it might literally be the thing that holds us together.

Monica Osborne is a scholar of Jewish literature and culture. She is the author of “The Midrashic Impulse and the Contemporary Literary Response to Trauma.”

 

THINK: Take a minute. 

  • when was the last time you made room for someone new? 
  • who do you need to get to know better ?

REFLECT: Quotes ·     

  • “We were designed to love and when we do, something good develops inside. We feel clean, rich, whole. Even better, we become less concerned with how we feel and more concerned with the lives of others.”― Larry Crabb
  • Aloneness can lead to loneliness. God’s preventative for loneliness is intimacy – meaningful, open, sharing relationships with one another. Neil T Anderson

 

ACTIVATE:  Make a plan

  • Who will you get to know better?
  • whats the first step?
    • Connect. Don't make this huge or difficult. Just connect!
    • Do it before you forget agan!!!!

PRAY / COMMIT: Lord, help me form real relationships that last. I want to do life together. Help me to make room for someone new.

 "He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love." Eph 4:16 NLT