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The Honesty of a Child

April 25, 2006

Today I realized that I cannot settle for the nominal, “normal” life; the cookie-cutter, perfect life. I suppose I’ve known this for all my life and have even articulated it, but I was especially hit with the weight of this today as I stepped into my classroom.

The child I’ve been observing this semester stood there, sharpening his pencil. I greeted Dylan with open arms, asking him how he was doing. I love the honesty in children; they say it like it is–no beating around the bush, no gloss and glam, no sugarcoat.

“How are you?” can be quite the loaded question with a variety of responses and expectations. I almost hate the saying because people usually don’t respond with honesty. This is partly because they feel as though you expect them to say everything’s just peachy-keen, while on the other hand they don’t want to be vulnerable. Instead of taking the time to really see how we’re doing, we just brush over the question with no weight, no thought, no care. O, we don’t have time to open that can of worms; nope, not gonna go there today. Not getting into this vault, it’s locked for safe keeping–like you’re keeping the money for a rainy day or something–a special occasion. When really, today is just as good a day as any to bear your heart and share what’s going on in your life and most importantly, in your heart. So I ask, “No, really, how are you?”

With Dylan, it only took my asking once, “I’m not going to be here long. My uncle shot himself. I got a funeral to go to.” Whoa, like hit me with a ton of bricks. Gasp. I think I would have cried right then and there had he not sounded so candid and composed nor had I been so caught off guard. Thoughts and feelings racing through me like a raging river or out-of-control fire. What to do? What to say? I wanted to talk with him, counsel him, love him. Of course I had so much to say–my family’s been through this with my mom. There’s so much to suicide that not even I can understand to this day. O my heart wept for him.

“Dylan, were you close to your uncle?” “Yes, ma’am. Very close.” Gulp…holding back a lump in my throat. I wanted to tell him it’d be okay. But it wasn’t okay. And those words mean nothing in times like these, anyhow. I remember people consoling me, or so they thought. Good intensions but to no prevail. There’s no way to accomodate such feelings of despair. The only comfort lies in the love of Christ. [not to say the thoughts and prayers are not wanted–support is definitely needed] The words are appreciated but they’re so empty. Lackadaisical demeanor–no motivation to do anything. A state of nothingness. A hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach, yet something wrenching pulls at your innards. Of course, Dylan had not reached this state of grief yet–he remained in the shock of it all. Either that or his child-like resiliance shined through; probably a combination of the two.

I remember walking through those days in a daze. Most of my memories from that year cannot trace back to my feelings. There was a clear detachment. I was in a state of denial, I’d say. I suppose for quite some time. Looking at pictures during the first Christmas without my mom there is no feeling. Usually I know exactly how I was feeling during the time of the pictures–I remember the way I felt what I was doing etcetera, but not in these pictures; I don’t think I even remember thinking of my mom on Christmas. It had not sunk in. Maybe she was just away on vacation. Maybe this was all just some bad joke, some bad dream. She would be there in the morning. But she never was.

I see the long journey of hurt Dylan is already traveling down. I wish I could stand in for all the suffering people go through. Thank you, Jesus, for already doing that! May You be with Dylan!

All of these thoughts raced through my mind, bringing me to the conclusion that this wasn’t the time or place for talking to him about his uncle’s death. So I hugged him.

The injustice of this world, this life floors me. It sends my blood shooting at some heinous speed. I want to put my foot down, make it all better. I cannot sit in my happy little life and be content, knowing that there is so much pain. That’s where the Lord comes in and brings ease to my state. He will bring justice to this world. He will bring His love. And He is. Until His return, I want to serve Him well.

Sure I’m only one person, but I’m one person who can impact one more person for Jesus. I’m one person who can start a ripple in the stagnate water which could turn into blown out waves. By God’s grace I can and will touch people for eternity. It’s only by His strength and His grace and His mercy. I’m learning this more and more.

While writing, this song came on my iTunes [appropriate I thought]:

“Changes Come”
words: Bergquist/Detweiler
music: Bergquist
recording: OHIO

Changes come
Turn my world around

I have my father’s hand
I have my mother’s tongue
I look for redemption in everyone

I wanna wear your ring
I have a song to sing
It ain’t over babe
In fact it’s just begun

Changes come
Turn my world around
Changes come
Bring the whole thing down

I wanna have our baby
Somedays I think that maybe
This ol’ world’s too [messed] up
For any firstborn son

There is all this untouched beauty
The light the dark both running through me
Is there still redemption for anyone

Jesus come
Turn the world around
Lay my burden down
Turn this world around
Bring the whole thing down
Bring it down

Lord, do come.

Another case worth noting:
A child in Ms. Christie’s class came to her the other day, with a pressing tone, needing to talk. She wrote Ms. Christie a letter telling her of a traumatic experience she had the previous day; she witnessed her neighbor being stabbed to death. On her way to school she accidently stepped in the puddle of blood. She drew a picture of the whole scene for the counselor. *long, somber sigh* Really, what the heck? As Ms. Christie showed me the letter, tears welled up in my eyes as I read, “…Ms. Christie, thinking about it makes my stomach hurt. … I am scared to go back home. If you say I can come home with you I would be so happy. Just cirlce yes or no. Love, Lori xoxo”

These children constantly remind me of my deisre to impact people for Christ. They constantly remind me of how unfair this life is. How insignificant so many things are that apparently rule our lives at one point or another. They remind me of the love we all need. The love we desire to give. They sober me up.

Oh, Lord, may You prevail! Amen!

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