Different is Good

Heat rose in shimmering waves off the pavement. Tendrils of perspiration dripped down foreheads and backs. Hunter stepped up to the line. He filled his lungs with air and pitched forward, spitting the watermelon seed with all his might. With great expectation, Hunter searched for his seed’s final destination. Unfortunately, the watermelon seed only flew a few inches, falling far shy of the winning distance.

Undeterred, Hunter tested his spelling skills in a friendly but competitive spelling bee. Concentration knit his brow as he attempted to spell “stories.” A gentle voice delivered the bad news of his misspelling but encouraged Hunter to try again next time.

Eyebrows furrowed as teams concentrated on the next throw of the horseshoe. Hunter tried his hand at horseshoes, but the metal “u” seemed to have a mind of its own, flying dangerously close to unsuspecting shins, toes, and even heads. He settled for cheering on Daddy and Uncle Mark as they battled against Grammy and Great Uncle Jeff.

Tadpoles swam in a frenzied panic away from children scooping buckets in search of treasure. Hunter searched the depths of the creek for tadpoles of his own. He scooped his bucket alongside cousins of all different ages. He had never had so much fun with people he didn’t even know existed before this trip.

My husband’s family reunion provided so many “firsts” for our son. Until that time, Hunter had grown up amidst the manicured landscaping of South Florida. While he was no stranger to the beach and pool, we kept our distance from creeks–the native home of Florida alligators. Watermelon seeds belonged in trashcans. Tossed metal objects (including horseshoes) could cause a boy to spend quite a few minutes in the time-out chair.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 27:17 NLT)

We tend to surround ourselves with like-minded folks and enjoy the same activities we always do. Summer is a time for family reunions. Gathering at a campground, we hug each other’s neck and catch up on lives lived. We interact with people in whom we have nothing in common except our blood. We participate in activities we might never consider on any given Saturday night. At a family reunion, anything goes. Laughter and love abound.

Sometimes the most fun we can have is forcing ourselves to get out of our comfort zone and spend some time with people different from us, allowing their differences to sharpen us … whether it’s at a family reunion or in our neighborhood.

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