Tomorrow night, 375 churches spanning 50 states and 11 countries will host Night to Shine, an evening dedicated to individuals with special needs, and to fostering the ideals of unconditional love and acceptance.
My church is one of those 375. I really knew precious little about Night to Shine until I showed up for volunteer training. I’d registered mainly as a way to plug in to the congregation, of which I’m a weeks old new member.
I also had no idea that Tim Tebow is the driving force behind Night to Shine. Here’s a guy I only knew as an athlete, and one who contrary to my own relatively private faith journey, is outspoken – dare I say evangelical – about his own.
Our stances on cultural and religious matters frankly could not be more different.
But he’s earned my respect for the mission, momentum, and meaning behind Night to Shine. I can’t wait to be a part of it all tomorrow.
My enthusiasm is rooted neither in pity for the guests of honor, nor is it about being self congratulatory. “Look at what I did! Look at what a good person I am!”
Far from it. I’m just as flawed and filled with the capacity for ugliness as any other mere mortal.
But I also believe that every last one of us are equally precious and worthy in the eyes of our Creator. Tomorrow night is a non run of the mill way to walk that talk.
As recently as this past week in my own community, I’ve seen example of outright thoughtlessness toward those with special needs, and it makes my stomach turn.
It added a new dimension to my involvement with Night to Shine, and made me even happier to support the event.
Hatefulness isn’t going anywhere. Maybe I can only turn the tide so much as a force of one, but to ignore it would make me just as culpable.
Instead, I’d rather sow a little love.
Here’s to all the ways, big and small, we can nurture the acceptance, kindness, and mutual respect that have too long been in short supply.