Quite a few years ago, there was a particular little boy in one of my classes.
He had a hard time staying on his chair. He was one of those kids that would be standing at his desk when the other twenty-five kids were sitting.
He was the kid that didn’t cope when any new routine, new teacher, or new thing cropped up.
He was the kid that had trouble making friends on the playground. Often interrupting games or having meltdowns.
He was the only kid that ever told me to *insert that word* off, and he was the only kid that ever physically hurt me.
Yet, he was that kid that had a huge place in my heart. I had this feeling about him, something just wasn’t right.
So, the countless misdemeanours were always forgiven. Boundaries were always maintained. Consequences for his behaviour always meted out.
I always knew how he felt because I asked him. I always knew how his weekend was because I asked him.
I sought him out on the playground and encouraged him to try again with his peers. I made sure he knew I saw him at church.
That year he moved on to the next class and I moved on to motherhood.
I continued to seek him out at church and we would have brief catch-ups in the foyer as he whizzed passed me.
Then I moved away and I kept in touch with his mum over the years. Our paths would collide at the weirdest of places. Her son was always something we talked about.
Well, that boy turned into a teenager and left school to pursue a trade.
Only then was he diagnosed with Aspergers.
It all made sense. My “Aspy” meter was already working way back then!
Via facebook we reconnected for a while, but when it was getting hard to watch his self-destructive way of life, I severed those ties.
But his mum and I continued to cross paths and her son was always someone we talked about. And I continued to bring him before the Lord in prayer.
A few months ago, Rob and I received an invitation in the mail. It was to this young man’s wedding.
The invitation hung with pride on the fridge along with all the other papers and invitations that are typical of a busy household.
The day of his wedding finally arrived and we donned our glad rags!
We had barely made it to the ceremony venue in the park when I was enveloped in a big hug by his older brother, who I had also taught.
‘Thank you for being here’ he said to me, ‘it means a lot.’
Then I saw that big burly guy who had once been the little terror who had made my life so very interesting way back when.
He scrubbed up alright. Looking dapper in his tux, he ran over to where we were standing and gave me a big hug.
‘Thank you for coming, I didn’t know if you were coming.’
It dawned on me then, just how much it meant that we were there. Apart from immediate family and two other family friends, we were the only two people who had known this young man in his childhood.
He had singled me out from all those people who had been in his life. Why?
I don’t know exactly, but I can guess.
Don’t ever underestimate just how powerful it is to a child that you forgive their transgressions and move on.
Don’t ever underestimate just how hard it is to be the one child who has no friends.
Don’t ever underestimate just how hard is it to be a child who can’t sit still, no matter how much they try.
Don’t ever underestimate just how much it means that you say hello to a child.
Never underestimate how much it means when you ask a child how they are, even if they have trouble putting their feelings into words.
Never underestimate the power of paying attention to the parents who are also struggling to make sense of it all.
Don’t underestimate the power of reaching out and making contact when these children are grown adults.
Never underestimate the power of God in their lives. They may turn their backs on Him, but He will always be there when they call on Him in repentance.
Never underestimate the role you can play in a child’s life. Especially the ones that from the outside may appear to be the ‘unloveable.’
God makes no mistakes. He places you on paths with others, for a reason. Maybe it’s a child in your life that you can make a big impact on?
Eyes wide open and pray for opportunities to show the Love of Christ to one of the little ones! You can only do it with His strength, so pray for that daily!
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13 (passage recited by the groom’s dad at the wedding ceremony)
*permission from the family was given to share this story.