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Ushering In Kindness

October 17, 2010

By Sarena James

There is something unmistakably breath-taking about watching my son usher on this particular Sunday morning; especially because we have no idea what he’s doing, especially because he’s never shown interest in this uniformed group of people before now, and especially, especially, because we are just visitors.  (inhale)

From the time we pulled into the parking area of New First Missionary Baptist Church in Edisto Island, South Carolina, we were warmly welcomed.  Raphael was the invited speaker for their Youth Day program and the children and I were more than happy to share our support through attendance. The night before, we held a mini parent meeting to discuss what unpredictable things might happen and to prepare for the unexpected as best we could.  No matter the outcome, however, we determined that the five of us would all leave with the last name James; we would leave the same way we came in, as a family.  Meeting adjourned.

We were seated on the front row closest to the center aisle and were enjoying the spirited rounds of handclaps and the uplifting harmony from the choir. We were surrounded by friendliness that felt like one big hug, and we soon relaxed in our cushioned seats. The devotion, the scripture reading, and the choir selection were all enjoyed by us without event. Then, he saw them.

Navy blue. That’s the color the ushers had on, and as fate would have it, that’s the color Grant had on too. We’re still not sure what prompted his sudden exodus down the center aisle to join them in their intentional stand, but, he did. As though perfectly timed or scripted, we four rose from our seats simultaneously to save our dear Grant. But something even more unexpected happened, and so, we sat back down.   

 There were over 100 people making up the kind congregation and they were fanning us while telling us, “Sit down. He’s okay. He’s fine,” and surprisingly he was. There center the aisle toward the back double-doors stood our son Grant who had positioned himself next to one of the ushers and was holding her hand.  He was happy; perhaps thrilled that he had finally found a group of people that were allowed to stand up during service (the entire service) without scold! Feeling at ease, we turned around.

Grant resurfaced just before the offering, striding back down the center aisle still holding his co-workers hand. He had the look of accomplishment on his face. He’d set out to do something and had done it well. His dimpled-smile proved he was proud of himself and we shared that sentiment. Raphael later spoke briefly about our family journey.  After the service we were greeted with enormous support and encouragement and familiar stories of others who are On Aisle 9 or know someone On Aisle 9.  We thanked and hugged everyone while Grant high-fived them and said, “Bye-Bye” to his new-found usher friends.

Edisto Island is a beautifully serene place, and the seventy-something degree breeze was just perfect for selecting seashells on the beach. For over an hour we stayed on the sand relaxing in the moment and appreciating our very good day. Two awesome things had happened. Grant made a hugely successful effort socially, and complete strangers had shown understanding, perspective, and sensitivity, helping us journey through what could have been a very difficult space.  Indeed, it was a great day! (exhale)

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. LaDonna Davis permalink
    December 7, 2010 12:40 pm

    This is an awesome story and wonderfully written. I am quite “visual” in my learning and felt as though I was right there. Grant has something that many don’t have- something that even I could use at times- the ability to do what I want to do, when I want to do it without regard for what others may think. Go Grant!

  2. Reggie James permalink
    November 22, 2010 1:00 pm

    What a Mighty God we serve! What better way to participate in church, than to serve? Grant preached the sermon that day and the whole church heard it. First the son, then the father. Thanks for the word, Grant; and for leaping out…now, who moved my cheese?

  3. October 27, 2010 5:45 am

    I loved that story. It sounded like Grant had a great time.

  4. Rose Jenkins permalink
    October 19, 2010 8:06 pm

    To the James Family,
    I am one,that sat in the congregation on this particular Sunday. I want you all to know that we really did enjoy having you all and hope that you would all come back again soon. Grant, along with the others are so precious and we(members) could not help our self from showing you all love. I pray that things would get better for you all. Just remember,God loves us all.

  5. LaDoris James permalink
    October 19, 2010 3:49 pm

    What an awesome experience for Grant and your family. This was truly a “discovery learning” experience that really paid off big time.I also see it as a special little ray of sunshine God sent your way and an angel who held his hand.

  6. Suzanne M. permalink
    October 19, 2010 7:37 am

    With tears in my eyes I can not begin to tell you how proud I am of you as a family. I know it had to be be diffcult to stay in your seat and I can see his sister’s head turning to check on Grant. This story gives hope to so many of our families in the community who are joining you on this journey. thank you for sharing! You do not know how many lives you are touching!
    Suzanne Mishler

  7. Latasha Caldwell permalink
    October 19, 2010 5:53 am

    Amazing story and it is so wonderful that they welcomed all of you so sweetly.

  8. Allison Coggins permalink
    October 18, 2010 9:20 pm

    Loved the story! I love that kid! Grant (and the others) were not only ushers- but true examples of how Christ wants us to live! I am sure he delivered much more of a lesson than some could preach:) I pray that our communities will continue to accept and embrace all individuals-no matter how differently they learn. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Jerome Davis permalink
    October 18, 2010 8:37 pm

    Great story! I love it.

  10. Ihsaan Ali permalink
    October 18, 2010 8:14 pm

    What a great story!!!! My smile is touching my ears as I envisioned Grant stepping out on faith without being guarded or protected. Sounds like he found a new sense of independence which I’m sure will serve him well… Thanks for sharing cuz!!! YAY GRANT!!!!

  11. Wallace James permalink
    October 18, 2010 3:48 pm

    Signs of a true leader! He stepped outside of the box for sure!LOL

  12. October 18, 2010 2:53 pm

    How wonderful! Thanks for sharing how your family prepares for outings too. A little time spent beforehand can alleviate a lot of hand-wringing during the event!

  13. Cynthia James permalink
    October 18, 2010 12:19 pm

    What an awesome story and experience! I’m so proud of Grant! Hugs and kisses and blessings from me!

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