I sat in the front of the classroom, seated backwards on a traditional desk, my feet where you'd usually be seated. We were playing 20 questions. Time was running out and I wanted the last question to mean something, to end our short visit on a positive note. See, I only had an allotted two hours with the top 25 FFA members of Lake Butler High School and I meant to use every last second.
"What are you good at? What are your strengths?"
"Well I play guitar," provided 6th grade Luke. I kinda assumed the rest of the answers would follow suit, one by one each student giving a talent or a strength. But no, that would be too normal for Lake Butler. That wasn't near spectacular enough. They weren't going to settle and they didn't even know it.
Timber was next. "Uhhh, I'm not sure," she fumbled shyly. Without skipping a beatTaylor Jumped in, "You kidding me, you're so nice! And I can't think of anyone who can sing better."
"That's awesome, I didn't know you could sing. What about you Whit?" I prodded.
"Well he's an awesome Hunter," Savannah added cheerfully. "Yeah, but Savannah is sucha good listener. She really is the nicest." Savannah and Whit traded smiles.
Lane was next, "I'm pretty good at math and stuff, I guess." "Yeah we all go to Lane if we need help on our homework." Lane stared at his desk and let a grin form across his lips.
"I like public speaking, but I'm not too confident," Taylor let out. "What?! You kidding me? You're an amazing speaker," Savannah shouted. Taylor was beaming.
"Well I don't know what I'm good at..." "Okay McKenzie we all know you come off a little rough around the edges, but it's pretty clear you have a huge heart and are the greatest friend," Haley said without leaving room for argument. I caught just a flash of a smile just before McKenzie resumed her usual tough girl persona.
Then there was Radar. Radar wasn't his real name, but that's what everyone called him and he loved it. "I... I... I don't think I'm good at anything." "Dude," Troy jumped in, "just being you is a strength. You are awesome." Radar smiled. He felt accepted.
One by one each person helped to affirm the people next to them, creating the most amazing and raw display of community, friendships and love I have ever seen. It wasn't intentional, it wasn't forced, I didn't ask for any of that. This group of 25 people, consisting of 6th graders all the way to seniors in high school showed me exactly what loving other people is about. Foregoing opportunities to put someone down and trading them for moments to build someone up.
Today I thank God for showing me that love is not a thought to be had or an implied notion among people. No sir. Love is an action. Love is a movement. Love is inexplicably present when demonstrated. Love is tangible. In the words of one of my favorite authors, Bob Goff, "Love Does."