A couple of nights ago I went for a walk and when I returned, everyone had showed up in my yard.
An index card with the word “everyone” neatly written in marker was nestled in the grass in front of my dogwood tree. A tiny ant was making a journey across it, almost reaching the tail end of the y.
Maybe it was a spelling flashcard or part of a sentence from a class project, blown by the wind out of my neighbor’s trash can. Or maybe it was an answer to a question. What could that question be?
Because my weird brain LOVES looking for meaning in happenstance things, it started tumbling the card around.
What is true about everyone? EVERYONE? Every person on this planet?
I thought about it as I opened the front door to my house and noticed Ben’s graduation cap on the coffee table. Then I laughed at a memory.
Just last week our son Ben graduated from medical school. On Friday’s ceremony, we sat in the balcony of the Koger Center in Columbia, South Carolina, as a couple hundred soon-to-be physicians marched in and took their seats at the front near the stage. Even from a distance I could see the happiness and relief on their faces, and of course I picked my child out of the crowd, the three year old who used to run around with a blanket on his head “because it’s so exciting before you hit something”, the mischievous boy we drove to emergency rooms all across the southeastern United States and France because of his daredevil antics, and for a couple seconds, I let the choppy river of memories rush over me. But then I looked at the seats beside me and behind me and below me and saw something hilarious.
I don’t know if you can tell it from this photo, but it felt as if I’d been transported back in time into the audience of Ben’s preschool Christmas program, with all the mommies and daddies standing up to wave at their children, and the kids waving back at them. For the next two or three minutes, I watched hundreds of parents (me included) waving like crazy people at their adult kids, as if to say, “I SEE YOU!” “I’M HERE FOR YOU HONEY!” “YOU DID IT AND I’M SO PROUD!” “YOU’RE A TREASURE TO ME, BABY!”
It didn’t matter if they were 2 or 12 or 26 or 40 years old. They were somebody’s baby, and that baby needed waving! And all the babies waved back. Or at least they smiled.
Everybody needs a cheerleader.
Everybody is loved and treasured by God, NO MATTER WHAT, of course! But everybody also needs a taste of that loving and treasuring by some humans around them.
And what a fun thing it is to be that cheerleader for others.
I thought about my EVERYONE card again on Tuesday night. My first grade friend, Riley, had a soccer game, and since his daddy had told me the place and time, I made a little cheerleading field trip to watch Riley play. It’s now one of my favorite parts of my job– I wish I had discovered earlier how much joy cheering on kids brings me! And how much they seem to like it too.
So we pulled up to the field and once again I was transported back in time, this time to the days when my three kids started playing soccer. Before I had even made it over to Riley’s team, I saw them, the cheerleader parents, clapping and waving as some kids raced after the ball and others picked clover or did cartwheels or played with their goalie gloves.
“YOU’VE COME JUST TO SEE ME PLAY?” Riley said, and I nodded.
“WOW!” he said and clapped his hands!
It was a fun game. Every time Riley looked over at me, I’d wave or give the thumbs up signal or shrug my shoulders and clap, as if to say, “IT’S OKAY!” “I SEE YOU!” “I’M HERE FOR YOU HONEY!” “YOU’RE A TREASURE TO ME, BABY!”
I was never a cheerleader in school. I was awkward and had no sense of rhythm or gymnastic ability. I was too shy to say a word in front of a crowd.
But now, I’m letting loose! And I can’t believe I’ve waited so long to discover how fun it is!
Are you a cheerleader, too?
I highly recommend it!
You don’t need gymnastic ability or rhythm and you can even stay your shy self! All it takes is to show up and clap a little. It won’t matter if the one you’re cheering on is 2 or 12 or 26 or 40 or 80 years old. They’re all somebody’s baby, and those babies- all of us- needed clapping for our efforts in this world!
And I bet you one thing. They’ll wave or smile or wink back at you. I promise.