“Why would you spend money on bad kids like us?”
I wasn’t prepared for the question and I had to turn away to swipe at the tears. I know I am way too soft hearted for my current job position, the one I took on back in October. Images flooded my mind as I sought for a simplistic answer to Taylor’s question. There were so many things I could say.
Because I was once broken and angry and filled with rage too.
Because someone saw beyond a young drunk with a sailor mouth and cynical veneer and believed in me.
Because I want to show that I care with more than words.
Because as challenging as it is working this position, I never want to give up hope.
Because Emmanuel, God with me.
Instead I turned back and said: Because I see good in you. And maybe I like you.
It was our last day before Winter (Christmas!) Break, and the night before I had made each of the students in our high school Affective Needs classroom a handmade Christmas card in which I sought to write words of affirmation and encouragement. I included a Burger King gift card and chocolate covered pretzel. Nothing too fancy or expensive – but these “tough” kids, students with Severe Emotional Disabilities, spoke rare words of gratitude and kindness in exchange.
Why did I do it?
These are students who cuss me out daily. “Get the F— away from me.” “Shut the F— up.” “You are getting on my damn nerves!”
The students lie to me, and treat me like the enemy. I try to respond with words of blessing.
They mostly seem to despise me, fight against me.
Yeah, it’s challenging because some days it feels like I have no purpose, I see no change, I am making no inroads, no difference at all.
Truth is, I have neither the authority, education nor backbone of the social workers that work with them, nor do I have the teaching credentials of the teachers who seek to educate them.
Some days it seems like I’m just kind of there.
And at times I wonder why. I come home at the end of the work day physically and emotionally spent. And it seems like it is all for naught.
But then I heard Taylor, out in the hallway, telling his girl “She thinks we’re good.” Not my exact words, but what he needed to hear.
What we all need to hear.
That there is something good in us, something of value, when all we see is darkness.
Maybe that’s why I did it. Maybe that’s why I’m there.
It is easy to bless those that are good to me; that is something I can do in my own strength.
But to do good to those that treat me horribly?
To bless those that curse me?
That is the power of Christ in me.
This Christmas season, my goal is to slow down and think of the real purpose of Christ’s coming. It wasn’t so that I could rush around in a frenzy, buying and wrapping and baking.
He came as Emmanuel, God with us.
To dwell in me, empowering me to do what I cannot do on my own.
To bless those that despitefully use me, to forgive those that have wounded me, to let go of things I cannot control, to love unconditionally, to discover joy and magic in bleak seasons, to have and be light in dark places.
To throw off fear, and walk courageously into this next year.
“But to you who are willing to listen, I say love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” – Jesus, Luke 6:27-28 NLT
Merry Christmas, Dear Ones. May you (re)discover the power of Christ in you.
Love and hugs,