Please bear with me, as this could be the most personal story I have ever sent into the blog-o-sphere:
Sometimes moments happen in life that are very hard to put into words. The following happened to me 16 years ago, and I am only now attempting to make what occurred form meaning in the English language.
I was about 20 years old when I volunteered for a few days in a friend’s elementary school class. The class she taught was a specialized one. It had only about 10 children in it, aged from about 8 to 10 years old. All of the children in the class had mental and/or emotional disabilities or diseases that they had had since birth.
One day I was asked to escort one of the boys, I’ll call him Todd, to the office. He was leaving early that day and needed to wait for his ride there. All was well until another little boy walked into the office. Suddenly, Todd became very agitated and started yelling profanity at the other boy.
I immediately took Todd out of the office to wait outside. There was a large raised planter with a tree and some bushes in it near the office door. I had Todd sit on the concrete rim of the planter and I stood next to him. By this time, he was very agitated and was yelling the worse profanity I had ever heard at every child that walked past. Mostly they just looked very surprised and kept walking.
I had never been in a situation like this before. I’m sure I said some things along the lines of, “Todd, you need to stop that.” But he kept shouting – oblivious to me standing there at all.
Human beings are, by nature, a bit self centered. It only makes sense that we would mostly focus on what directly affects us. And in my short 20 years of life I had occasion only every once in awhile to go outside my little world. In situations I couldn’t control, especially one such as this, my reaction would most likely have been to become quite agitated about the whole thing…and maybe even a bit angry at the one causing all the commotion. But – that is not what happened that sunny day that I stood next to little Todd as he yelled obscenities out into the world.
In that moment, I changed.
All was still inside me and I was overcome with love for this little boy. I walked up to him and hugged him. I’m sure it broke all kinds of rules. But in that moment, I wasn’t thinking about being a school volunteer or Todd being a kid I met last week. We were just a brother and sister on this planet – children of God – both just doing the best that we knew how. And in that moment – we were both still.
I don’t know what happened to Todd. I hope he had more good teachers like that friend of mine. I hope he has mentors and helpers and people who lift him up. I hope he was able to realize his amazing potential. I sure owe him – because he taught me something in that moment.
As I stood there next to Todd and felt that overwhelming love – I got a glimpse of God’s love for Todd. He loved Todd as he shouted and cursed – he loved me as I stood there not knowing what to do.
When we are so confused that all we can do is yell obscenities out into the world – God still loves us. He felt the pain of that little boy that day as He has felt all our pain. He is sad when we are sad. He is standing ready to wrap us in His arms so that we may be still.
I’ve shared this scripture before, but it bears repeating: Isiah 49:16 “Behold I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.”