Sunday, December 2, 2007

Irksome People

"Lord, please give me patience with this kid."

I mumbled the prayer repeatedly as I walked Tom down the hallway with the handful of other students who would be joining us. It was test day, which meant that it was my job to pull out several of the special ed students to provide an alternate site for testing where they'd have more time. I kept Tom next to me so I could keep an eye on him. He had only been in 6th grade for a couple weeks but had already established himself as a force to be reckoned with.

As we entered the room, Tom provided the usual difficulties but eventually took his seat. I had to remind him several times to stay on task as he began his test. I really wanted him to do his best, but it was also very hot in the building, I was frustrated, and to be honest at the moment I was just hoping to get through the hour so Tom could be out of my hair and become someone else's problem.

At the end of the reading test was an essay question. "Great," I thought. "I have to get him to write multiple complete sentences! This will be fun." When Tom reached the essay I took a moment to make sure he understood the question just as I did for everyone else. The assignment was to describe a person he knew in real life, and then suggest how he might change that person if he were making him or her into a fictional character. To my surprise he began writing immediately, and actually appeared to be interested in his work.

When he had finished I took his test and looked straight to the essay, wondering if he had actually written everything he was supposed to. I began to read.

Someone I use in a story is my mom. She's usually nice to me and takes care of me. If I could change her I would get her to come back to church with me and grandma and quit smoking so much cause I really want her to be there.

Immediately I froze. After a few seconds I realized Tom was still staring at me, a look of "is it OK?" in his eyes. I handed back the paper and told him that he had done a good job. "Don't give up on her," I whispered. "and one day this can be a real story, not just fiction."

"That's what my grandma said," he replied. "I can't give up on her cause God sure won't!"

"She's right." was all I could say.

I spent the rest of the day in a bit of a stupor. I've never looked at Tom the same. He is no longer merely a brat to be tolerated; he is a child of God, a wonderful creation that God used to share a piece of His heart with a selfish, short sighted sinner.

Never give up, even on the people that irk you the most, cause God sure won't.

"He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:2-4

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Tongue

“Stupid Tyler! Stupid Tyler!”

My head snapped sideways at the voice, and despite my attempts to appear unruffled, I knew my face revealed my anger. Suddenly, a lot of things made sense.

Tyler arrived about three weeks into the school year. This may not seem like much time, but in 6th grade it can be an eternity. Friends had been made, social cliques established, and Tyler arrived an outsider.

My first encounters with Tyler weren’t the best. He was argumentative and often refused to work. When I informed him I was there to help, his response was, “yeah, I’ve heard that before, but no one does.” After several weeks things improved between us. He began to trust me, and when I was around he did his work. However his relationships with his peers were subsequently deteriorating.

Tyler spent little of his lunch in the cafeteria. I usually found him sitting alone just outside the door or trying to wander the halls. We spent increasing amounts of time talking, and I learned a lot about the boy who had originally been a nuisance to me. I learned about the trouble he’d had at his last school, I learned about the histories of addiction his parents were now battling with God’s help, I learned that more than anything Tyler wanted a friend. He tried his best to smile when we spoke, and even laughed on occasion, but when he didn’t know I was looking his face always sunk into a lonely sadness.

I knew others weren’t treating him the best, but I didn’t see it first hand until that day in art class.

“Stupid Tyler!” the chants continued. I ordered a time out, the boy tried to talk back, so I sent him to the hall with a detention slip. However, as I turned back to Tyler, I saw his face begin to sink, and it was obvious the damage had been done.

“The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark…

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.

My brothers, this should not be.” James 3:5, 9-10

Our tongues are capable of both great good and great evil. What are you doing with yours?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What's this about?

Welcome! You are looking at my first official blog post on this site. If any of you were readers of my myspace blog, you may recognize some of the things you see here, including the content of this post. However I promise there will be plenty of new stuff. That said, here are some thoughts on what my blog is about.

When perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.

You may wonder why this quote is my headline. Those of you who have witnessed the cleanliness of any of the places where I have lived know that I am far from being a perfectionist. So why this one? Well, as you can see, it is from the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:10. This is right in the middle of the famous love chapter of Corinthians, which gives a detailed description of agape, or Godly love. 1 Corinthians 13:8-9 reads:

"Love never fails, but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part;"

Essentially what is being said is that we live in an imperfect world, a world where nothing lasts forever. Even many of the gifts of God will eventually pass away; however true love, selfless humble compassionate love, agape love, will always endure. When we one day experience the fullness of Gods perfection, we will be experiencing the fullness of His love. In the presence of this love, all other things fade. Even now, though I am only able to catch glimpses of this love, I am confronted with the fleetingness of this world, and the permanence of the next.

My life could be considered one long cross fade. As the world fades from view, God becomes clearer. Granted, it's taking a while. I'm stubborn, and there is so much that I don't want to give up, even though in my heart I know that God has something better. However I know that despite myself, God knows me, and loves me. He will graciously nudge me further along the path He has laid out for me (although some of the nudges feel like a 2x4 to the head!) until at last I go home, and experience His full and perfect love.

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:12-13

That's my headline, and this is my blog.