The Dairy Queen ball pit and the Chick-Fil-A playroom are a right of childhood. I have been known to choose one of those two restaurants for the very fact that they have a play area! I try not to think about the germs, wash Henry’s hands before and after playing, and just let him have fun being a four-year-old.

One day this summer, as we were enjoying all that the Dairy Queen playground has to offer, Henry got a rude awakening to the inherent sin nature that is a part of humanity. Another little kid – and I mean LITTLE – was being a bully.

“You don’t belong here. You can’t play here. You need to go somewhere else,” whispered softly enough that parents could not hear.

I was very tempted to wring the neck of this kid, but with an enormous amount of self-control, I did not.

It starts early, this need to see ourselves as better than others. Preschoolers do it, older kids do it, adults do it. We put someone else down to try to lift ourselves up.

We ignore the new woman who walks in the room because she’s not part of our circle of friends

You don’t belong here.

We intentionally exclude people because we are threatened by their gifts and abilities.

You can’t play here.

We try to orchestrate events to put ourselves above others.

You need to go somewhere else.

I’m ashamed to say I’ve both done these things and had them done to me.

What a different world this would be if we could all just enjoy the ball pit together, jumping and laughing and bouncing. The truth is, we are all a mess, and we need grace to deal with one another daily.

Can I offer you a challenge today? Find someone who has bought they lie that they don’t belong and include them today – have a conversation, share a coffee, give a compliment. Let’s change the lie to truth. You are welcome here. You do belong.