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