so this past sunday, i had one of those moments where i remember why i love my job so much and i why i am so blessed to have it. i hope that my words here accurately convey my joy!
so there are two little guys that come to my area each sunday. they have been known for having trouble obeying and pushing all the limits and causing quite a ruckus. we have been working hard to try and help them. we have talked to their dad multiple times and we are now even trying some positive reinforcement for them. but this sunday, the older one, he is in the third grade, was out to push all boundaries no matter what!! (for his sake i will not use his real name, but instead will call him peter) within 20 minutes of being there, peter had disobeyed his leader multiple times and even hit his brother because he thought it was funny. so during our kids worship time, i decided he would be my buddy and i would sit with him to help. i stood right next to him and danced and sang with him. it did not take him long to start trying to push the boundaries again. he wanted to mess with others while they were worshiping. he wanted to lay on the ground and roll around rather than sing. after asking him many times and even helping him stand up, peter still refused and even threw a couple punches at me (luckily he only weighs like 40 pounds). so i told him to come outside with me since he could not obey. he refused and tried to create a scene, so i just picked him up and carried him out into the hall to sit with me and the police officer.
after we got in the hall, he was so mad and just wanted to go back in. i told him we had to sit in time out for a bit and he only got angrier and angrier. he even said a few inappropriate things to me and continued to try and hit me. i was having to hold him at one point to keep him from running off, at which point he started to lick me. (never had a kid do that before, but i was just thankful that he was not biting me) i finally paged his dad out of service and he came and sat with peter and i. he told peter that he needed to apologize, but peter refused. he even said, "i don't feel sorry so i'm not going to say sorry." we had this conversation multiple times, but he refused and would not budge.
so we sat on the bench for awhile and then the lord brought something to mind. i looked at peter and i asked him if he knew about forgiveness. he looked at me, still very angry. i proceeded to tell him that forgiveness has two parts. one where the person who did wrong apologizes or repents and is sorry for what they did. the second part is that the other person forgets and gives them a new start. i told him that no matter what happened that day, when he came to kidstuff next week, i was going to give him a fresh start. i was not going to talk about this week, i was not going to hold it over his head, and in fact i would act as if it never happened.
he looked at me and told me he was getting calmer, but still did not want to apologize. we sat there in silence for a few minutes and then the lord brought this to my mind. so i looked at peter again and said, "peter, you know who else forgives us?" no answer. and i said, "jesus. he forgives us completely and gives us a fresh start. he doesn't hold our mess ups over our head. no matter how much we mess up, he keeps forgiving us. that is how much he loves us."
at this point, the other kids are coming out of worship and going back up to their classroom. peter asks me if we can go outside and talk since it is now so loud and everyone is walking by. so we went outside, he sat next to me and said this, "i'm sorry for disobeying you. i am sorry for hitting you and i am sorry for licking you." then i gave him a hug and a high five and let him rejoin his class. he skipped back to catch up with his leader who welcomed him right back in the group.
as his dad and i were walking back inside, he said to me, "i know you guys probably dread seeing me and my boys come each week. i am so sorry that they cause so many problems." i then cut him off and told him that i don't feel that way and that if i ever did, that would be sin on my part because the whole point of my job is to love on kids and point them to jesus and if i am not doing that because it is inconvenient, then i am failing. if me and my volunteers are not loving on these kids, supporting their families and fighting for them, then why are we here. i told him with tears in my eyes, that it is my privilege to get to talk to kids about jesus, even when it is tough. i told him that i pray for his boys and that my leaders do too. and i that i was sorry that i could not give him practical advice, but that i could assure him that we were fighting for them. at this, he also began to tear up. it was a sweet sweet moment.
the lord used this to also show me that we act like peter all the time. we push the limits, think our sin is no big deal, we fight back, we even may get mad at him and kick, scream, or even "lick." then we are embarrassed when our sin gets exposed or called out and we want to just escape rather than deal with it. but then jesus' love arrests us and attacks us and we still resist because to give in would be humiliating. but he is patient and persistent and his love is so enticing and we know it is so satisfying. so we finally give in and repent and then we feel free!! we are free to skip! we are loved as we are and our debt has been paid! how quick we are to forget what jesus has done for us. what price he paid for us.
one more cool thing. remember how i said that the cop was sitting out there with us. well after it was all said and done, i was walking past him and he stopped me. he wanted to know how i could be so patient and love on a kid like that. i jokingly said that i have to pray for patience. as i walked off and was laughing about how crazy kids are, i then turned back to him to say, "and that is because that is how i am loved. and when i remember that, it makes it a little easier to love others like that." i hope that he got a glimpse of the gospel that day. who knows. all i know, is that night, while i was at worship and we were singing about how good god is, i wept. and wept and wept and wept. so thankful for his faithfulness! so thankful that i get to be a vessel to point kids to christ and make disciples of this next generation. that, my friends, is why i have the best job ever! thanks for reading through this forever long post!