On Friday evening, I changed my FACEBOOK cover picture to the shot above. So far, I have had over 100 likes and numerous comments. One of the comments, from a wonderful former colleague, Melacyn, read, "That's the picture Brooklynn doesn't like." To find out why, as Paul Harvey would say, 'The rest of the story...' read on! (from 5-7-06)
I have a dilemma. You remember Brooklynn, the little girl who was the object of an entry last fall. Brooklynn and I have a wonderful relationship, at least from my perspective. She doles out affection in medicine-dropper doses but every so often, she gives me a hug. After Christmas, we begin our annual penny-nickel-dime-quarter collection at Westbury Christian to help give boys on the streets in Honduras a safe and Godly home. I made a presentation in her four-year old kindergarten class after she and her classmates watched a little DVD promo for Jovenes en Camino, the work we support. Brooklynn took it to heart. Her mother, Melacyn, is one of our science instructors. (Teacher of the Six Weeks for November-December!) Melacyn tells me Brooklynn saves every coin she finds to make life easier for boys she will never meet. In fact, she forbids her mother from spending change at the store so it can be earmarked for the orphans. Brooklynn has done such a marvelous job in embracing what Jesus taught that I made sure she received one of the little wooden Honduras crosses I bring back from my summer mission trips. Friday, Melacyn stunned me with disturbing news- Brooklynn is very upset! This week, as we prepared to begin our turn-in for the Honduras change, I gave our teachers mini-posters as reminders that the day to return their bank bottles was approaching. Gracing the poster, stapled all over our kindergarten and elementary wings, is a picture of me holding a little Honduran girl. Our group had just supplied this angel with her first pair of shoes. The smile on the face of this precious child could light our school in the event of a power outage. I intended this to simply be a reminder...but that's not how Brooklynn took it. Melacyn told me her daughter was crushed, sobbing, "Coach Hawley doesn't love me anymore!" When her mother asked how she came to that conclusion, Brooklynn related that I was holding another little girl in the picture so I couldn't still love her. Melacyn tried to reassure Brooklynn but to no avail. What hit me the hardest was what Melacyn next passed on. Brooklynn told her mom that she HAD to wear her Honduras cross to school "so Coach Hawley will love me again!"
Have you ever felt innocent but simultaneously racked with guilt? That is me. There are so many applications from this vignette of kindergarten life. We have to be so careful of little ones' interpretations. They comprehend information non-existent to adults and miss what is obvious to grownups. Brooklynn filters her life through a prism of her own universe and its meaning. Her understanding is that Coach Hawley can only love one child at a time. But is Brooklynn so different from the rest of us? Our logic may be calibrated differently but it can be just as skewed. We dissect every iota of information we absorb from those in our pathway and conclude that the world must hate us. I deal with students who interpret their world through emotions and invariably reach invalid conclusions. But the adults I interact with in all my life are virtually the same in dealing with each other. We see clues that are blurry at best and we find evidence invisible to the naked eye. We struggle with the same phenomena in our relationship with the Lord, or at least I do. I can't help feeling, even though it is untrue and illogical, that our Father in Heaven must not love me anymore when I mess up for the millionth time. When I sin, I catch myself reacting like Brooklynn did with her cross, thinking I have to perform some good deed so possibly the Father will take me back. The scriptures are so full of examples of God's forgiveness for his children. I find great solace in the words of Jesus recorded in Luke 17 where the Savior instructs his followers to forgive a brother seven times in the same day if that brother says he repents. I would guess the brother was repeating the same offense. Most students confess they would be unable to fulfill that command. What I find comforting is that I believe Jesus is displaying how our Father forgives us. We are so imperfect but He loves us so much! His love is never a license for us to simply do as we please- Paul deftly handled that line of reasoning- but His love can motivate us to draw closer to the ultimate source of perfection. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross should put to bed any doubts that seep into my childlike mind on occasion. No Father would offer his own son for me without the kind of love that will not let me go. John 3:16 sums it up very nicely!
Now, back to Brooklynn. Somehow, I have to reassure this jewel of a child that my feelings have not and will not change. My aides suggested taking our picture together and taping it up all over school but I would have fifty others wanting equal time. Plus, I am not that good looking; a little Coach Hawley goes a long way! I saw Brooklynn Friday afternoon but she was with her class and just awakened from her post-lunch nap so she had not returned to complete mental coherency. I have to come up with something to rectify the situation. A heart is a terrible thing to break, especially a heart belonging to a little one as precious as Brooklynn.
Applicable quote of the day:
"Nothing you do for children is ever wasted. They seem not to notice us, hovering, averting our eyes, and they seldom offer thanks, but what we do for them is never wasted."
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org