I want to share a short story with you, that has an important point.
The terrorist attacks of 9/11 happened on a Tuesday, which were the days we had FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) meetings in high school. I was president that year, and the principal approached me about moving our meeting to the Chandler Center for the Arts and extending an invite to anyone in school who wanted to say a prayer for New York, our country, etc. A few hundred people showed up- everyone looking a little more pale than usual. I remember standing on the stage leading a discussion/prayer vigil and feeling, for various reasons, like a complete fraud. Afterward, a kid that I’d never seen before approached me. He was a sophomore, had just moved to AZ from NYC, and hadn’t been able to get ahold of any family yet. He asked me if it was OK to just cry for a little while, and if I’d stay with him. I did, but not without a few moments of shameful reluctance. He thanked me, cried for about 10 minutes, thanked me again, and went in his way. I never saw that kid again, but I think about him every once and a while, and how unqualified I felt to meet any of his, or anyone else’s needs. There are still situations today where I don’t want to engage others in need because I feel unqualified or unable to help, or put off by differences or past disagreements. Then I think of that kid in that terrible day and remember the lesson I learned from him that has continued to be true in marriage, fatherhood, teaching and friendship. People don’t need you to be perfect. They need you to be present.
I want you to be there. Be there for each other. Be there for your family. Be there for your friends. Be there for a stranger if needed. I’ll do my best to be there for you.