Sunday, October 30, 2005

My Good Deed For The Day

Yesterday, my son entered a skateboarding competition. I've mentioned before that he is a pretty good skateboarder. The competition was sponsored by a local church, New Covenant Fellowship Church, who laid out ramps and rails and "boxes" in the side parking lot for the kids to perform their tricks. The prizes ranged from $200.00 for first prize, to $10.00 for anyone that entered.

With the popularity of skateboarding these days, it is a stroke of genius, in my opinion, for the church to start a "Skate Ministry". They reach many young people who otherwise might never darken the door of a church.

My son, John, in action. (Click the picture to enlarge)

My son won second place and was presented with $75.00, which he promptly spent on new skateboarding shoes (Nike) and new wheels. They didn't present the winners with their prizes at the end of the contest, instead they announced that the prizes were to be given away during services on Sunday (today). So my son and I went to a different church today. I thought it was a rather sneaky way of getting people to visit their church, but I'm not complaining. Heaven knows, My son and I both need as much Spiritual help as we can get.

But I'm not going to discuss my son or his prowess on a skateboard today, although I am very proud of him.

Instead I want to talk about another young man who was also there, a very good friend of my son's. His name is A J. He is 14 years old and very short for his age. He is 4'8" tall. (In contrast, my son stands about 6 foot, taller than me by at least 4 inches)

My heart went out to this young man. As I have mentioned before, I was also very small for my age in high school. I was 4' 9" when I entered high school, and grew 11 inches by the time I graduated.

I remember how I was teased and picked on because of my height, and I know, the way kids are these days, that poor little A J must surely get much worse than I did. Not everything about enduring taunts and teasing is bad. You tend to develop a thick skin, which helps you cope with the constant jibes from your peers. But it gets old, and it wears on your self esteem. In addition to a thick skin, you also develop a poor self image, and an overall belief that you aren't as good or accomplished, or even as smart as your peers.

I know. I've been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

When the time came for the kids to sign up for the contest, A J sat down on the chairs provided for the spectators, saying he wasn't going to compete because he wasn't good enough.

I know I should just stay out of these things but I just couldn't. I went over to him and knelt down in front of him, and said, "You should go ahead and compete, the worse you can do is lose, and that isn't so bad, you'll still have fun."

He protested, but I continued, "You never know, maybe the other guys will choke or mess up and you'll end up winning it. Anyway, you'll never know what you can accomplish if you don't try." Then I walked away and left him there to consider what I told him.

A few minutes later, I looked up and noticed that A J was standing by the judges table getting a number pinned on his back. I was as proud as if he were my own child.

A J performed very nicely and acquitted himself well. This morning, in the church service, A J was presented with 6th prize and $10.00. 6th place out of 11. Not bad. Not bad at all.

I hope this little victory will inspire him in the future, and he will rise above self doubt and become everything I know he can.

I only wish I had been encouraged like that when I was his age.


Sheila said...

Amen Mark.

Good on you. In the years to come when you or he least expect it. That memory of your encouragement and his accomlishment will help him make a decision. In other words something as small as encouragement can change the course of a childs life.

Random Acts of Kindness are a Blessed Act of selfless giving.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Mark....the person I'm most proud of right now is YOU.

Never underestimate the effects one can have on children. The smallest gesture can make a world of difference in someone's life, and nothing should be taken for granted. One careless word or one friendly smile to a complete never know: Could make all the difference in the world.

Every action you take, great or small, has an effect on this world.

Bless your soul.

Lores Rizkalla said...

"When I consider the tremendous consequences that come from little things, I am tempted to think that there is no such thing as a little thing." --Bruce Barton

That was no little thing, Mark! God bless you!

Goat said...

As a soccer coach, camp counselor and referee, that was an extraordinary move you made, thank you for sharing. I find it ironic how our posts seem to coincide in a good way. You will enjoy my latest on Overcoming..

Mary said...

What a great story, Mark!

Think of what a difference your effort made. Hopefully, your compassion for AJ will have a ripple effect, and he'll do the same for someone else one day.

"We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop."


FrenziedFeline said...

Good for you, Mark! Teens so often need encouragement from adults that care about them, other than their parents. Quite often (as you may know) it's the other adult the kid will listen to--lol.

Pat yourself on the back for me! :)

Lone Ranger said...

That picture looks like a Norman Rockwell painting. You should get it blown up and framed.

Mark said...

It is a great photo, One of John's friends took it with a cheap disposable camera from Walmart.