It was Friday night and like any Young Life leader around the world, I was out watching my high school friends. It wasn't a football game, the cheerleading squad or even a school play. It was the Tennessee State Fair Ms. Sparkle Pageant!
As I cheered on my friends who were participating in the pageant, I was struck by something... myself, my son and the friend that I was with appeared to be the only people in the room who weren't family members to one of the participants.
I know that this is true in the world of our friends with disabilities, that's why we often use the words "lonely" or "isolated" when speaking of their every day life. But last night, it hit me in the face all over again. A room full of beautiful girls, dressed to the nine's, hair done, make-up on, hours of practice and even a submission of information about themselves being read and the only people there to cheer them on where family members. And a Young Life leader.
Grace was crowned Princess of the pageant. My eyes welled up and I yelled and hollered for her. Why? I'm a Young Life leader. I think the world of her and know that she's loved and crowned by a God who thinks even more of her.
One of our friend's moms thanked me over five times for coming. I was there for an hour. Five plus times in one hour. Her daughter even mentioned YL in answering her question about the things she loves to do most!
There are high school kids with disabilities doing various things this weekend. Are you there, cheering them on and standing out like a sore thumb among a group of family members?
When a Young Life Leader shows up in the world of our friends with disabilities, it means the world- to them and to their family members who are use to standing alone.