Do you ever wonder where all your grade school classmates are? With all the social networking at our fingertips hunting them down is barely a challenge. Reconnecting with the past is a combination of interesting and sometimes disturbing.

One of my first friends was Anne. She was a girl who had it all together, even in first grade. Her papers were always perfect, she made A’s in everything, she had the best handwriting in the class and she had a Pollyanna personality. The only thing I managed to do better than her was read more books. The prize for the most books read by the end of the year was a fabulous beige Dachshund autograph hound with a red collar and black pen. Everyone in the class signed it and Anne wrote, “To my friend” in her perfect handwriting. I couldn’t have been more proud.

Like everyone on the first day that year, I wore my new school shoes. They were red and I felt so pretty and smart in them. As all the kids were lining up in the hall to find their classroom the third grade teacher, who all the kids were afraid of, stopped right beside me and said as if she was making an announcement, “What is that horrible smell?”

Everyone turned around in unison just as I looked down to discover I had dog poop all over the bottom of my new red shoe. As if on cue, “eeewww” echoed down the hall. The mean teacher took me by the hand to the office. I felt like a leper of Biblical times as the kids backed up against the wall to make sure I didn’t touch them.

The principal looked at me with understanding eyes and took over when we reached the office. My shoe looked like it had just come out of the box when she took me back to the classroom. When I sat down at my desk next to Anne, she whispered, “It’s OK. I do stuff like that all the time.”

As hard as that was to believe, I wanted to. She never messed up, but because she was my friend she wanted me to understand people step in dog poop all the time. It was her way of saying we all mess up, maybe just not in front of a school full of people.

I’m amazed at how often I make a mess of things. I sometimes think if there was but one dog poop pile on a football field I was walking across I would somehow find a way to step in it. I’m guessing a lot of us feel that way. I want to be more like Anne and encourage my friends and let them know, “It’s OK. Everyone does stuff like that all the time.”

“But encourage one another daily…” Hebrews 3:13

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