During the years I spent performing my required playground duty as an elementary teacher, I always felt sad for the children who lacked a playmate. The one solitary figure who didn’t seem to have a place to fit, a friend to toss the ball to, or a pal to race across the playground with. I would inevitably spend my time chatting with them during recess after I invited them to stroll with me as I monitored all the activities. My attempts to connect them with a classmate oftentimes failed to create a friendship.
Recently I discovered an invention I wish had been available years ago: the buddy bench. The bench resides next to the playground. If you can’t find your friends or don’t know where to play, you sit on the buddy bench and somebody will come and find you. Within a few minutes, any student sitting on the bench will be approached by a fellow student and asked to play. I love this! Some empathetic students had a great idea and put compassion into action. This idea has ricocheted through America from elementary to high schools.
How many of us would like one of those for adults? You don’t have a friend available to go to the movie—you sit on the buddy bench. You need a dinner companion—you sit on the buddy bench. You’d love someone to join you for game night—you sit on the bench. You could meet all kinds of new people this way. I want to install one in my front yard.
The more I pondered the image of a bench perched on the grass outside my house I suddenly realized there was already someone occupying the seat: Jesus. He’s waiting for me to come and interact. He’s my constant cohort. When I feel lonely, I simply need to find a seat and Jesus will join me.
The difficulty in this concept is oftentimes we don’t know how to access his camaraderie. He desires to be our friend and confidant, but we see him as only a genie in a bottle to grant our requests, or the old father we run to when times are difficult. We fail to envision him as our buddy eagerly waiting to spend time with us and develop a deep relationship. But that is exactly who he is. We must train ourselves to interact with him just as we would with our closest human friend.
So the next time you yearn for a faithful playmate who can ease your burdens and lift your spirits, go sit on your buddy bench and watch Jesus come running.
About Shelley Pulliam
Howdy! (A girl from Oklahoma has to use this as her greeting) I’m Shelley Pulliam, executive director of Arise Ministries and former teacher of hormone-filled 8th graders. But my real claim to fame rests in my award as second grade spelling bee champ and my recent gun-handling skills as I train to competition shoot. It helps me be on guard when Satan comes knocking. I’m a voracious reader and can frequently be found at the theater enjoying movie marathons where my record stands at six in one day. I’m a single, never married, who loves to pour into children at every opportunity. Let me know if you have any for sale. You can connect with me on social media. https://www.instagram.com/shelleypulliam/