Last week Hope told me she was in a gang.
"A gang? " I said. "What kind of a gang?"
"You know, like Scooby Doo," she told me.
She went on to tell me that a gang is four or so people who hang out and play together and maybe they fight but they always make up. It sounded good to me. I think I've always hoped that my children would be a part of a gang...well, at least this kind of a gang. I want them to have a close, core group of friends, and to feel a part of a group. I know what that feels like. That's a good thing. Long live the gang!
As we talked more about it later that week, I started to feel like a "gang" in Hope's definition was also a little...well, exclusive. Some kids were in and some were out. Then, I didn't like it as much. I know what that feels like, too. And, it occurred to me that my 7 year old might not be mature enough to be in a gang. That she might not understand how it could hurt people's feelings. I told her I wasn't sure being in a gang was the best thing. Down with the gang!
Then, I wrestled with it a little. The truth is, I've wrestled with this same thing a lot in the last year or so. I mean, I have a gang, if you wanna call it that. (And I do!) Is it okay to have a small, core group of friends in the midst of a larger group of friends? How do you do that and keep people from feeling excluded? And how do I teach this to my child if I can't even figure it out for myself?
In the end, I told Hope what I believe to be true. That it is okay to have a small circle of friends that you are closer to. People that know you inside and out. And, that it's not really possible to have that with everyone. But, that we are to love everyone like Jesus loves and that means that we can see and appreciate just how special each person is and treat them that way, too. And that really, this is what your whole gang should be about.
I'm not totally sure she got it because then she went on to describe some fantastic, Scooby Doo- like, adventure that they had during recess. But, it was good for me to process and made me come up with some good answers for those questions that I know will continue to pop up in both of our lives.
Today, I get to celebrate seven years of loving my sweet Hopie. And I continue to beg God for wisdom as I parent this amazing little girl. And I pray that with each passing year, she falls deeper in love with Jesus...who blessed us with her.
Hope - "I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."