Tuesday, December 06, 2011

A Better Way to Love

I would like to introduce you to a 10 year old girl in my Sunday class. For the purpose of this blog, let’s say her name is Jane. I’ve known Jane for years, but she doesn’t come every Sunday. Sometimes she’ll be there several weeks in a row, and then she’ll disappear for weeks or even months.  

 Jane is obstinate and difficult to deal with. If I say left she insists on going right. She doesn’t want to play games or participate in any activities. She doesn’t just sit quietly on the side lines either. Jane is loud and distracting to the other children. Jane tests my patience.   

This last Sunday Jane asked me to sit by her. Since I wasn’t teaching I joined her at the girls table. Jane proceeded to pretend to punch me, stopping her fist just short of my face, and to poke me in the arm repeatedly. “Jane, keep your hands to yourself. ” I’d say, motioning for her to listen to the teacher.  After all, this is important stuff. She needs to know God loves her – her eternity is at stake for crying out loud. Listen to the teacher little girl! Of course she didn’t listen at all and continued to poke and pretend to punch me (at least she didn’t actually hit me). 

Seeing I was getting nowhere I turned and giving it a last shot said, “Let’s have a lesson about body space. This is my body space.” I made a narrow circle around my chair. “Do you mean like a personal bubble?” Jane asked excitedly. “Yes, like a personal bubble. I can’t enter your space and you can’t enter my space unless for appropriate reasons and we give each other permission to do so.” She nodded her head trying to think this thing through. I continued, “An appropriate reason to enter my body space would be, umm, say to ask for a hug or…” Jane interrupted “Can I have a hug?!” she asked excitedly and practically jumping out of her seat. “Of course you can!” I said and reached over to hug her. She asked me for several more hugs and didn’t poke or pretend to punch me for the rest of the morning.

Now, all that may not seem like a big deal to you, but let me say it is HUGE to me. Jane has never let me hug her before and the only touch she’s willing to give is poking and for the purpose of annoying the other person.  Jane’s greatest need wasn’t to listen to the teacher at that moment, this little girl needed love. She needed me to stop nagging her to be good and start seeing her for the precious child she is. 

I so desperately want to see – to truly see. I am thankful that despite my rough edges God takes me as I am and loves me anyway. In His eyes my actions don't define my worth. I want to love like that.

God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outside appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7

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