Saturday, January 16, 2010

a wonderful gift

When I was a new, young, naive, immature, and selfish teacher I worked in a school that was comprised of mostly lower-income, one parent families. There was not a lot of home or community support even though we were a "community" school (really just meaning that most of our kids walked). The area honestly didn't lend itself to "involvement". During this particular year, one that had been extremely difficult, when the holidays began approaching one of my students started telling me that he had a wonderful gift for me. He went on and on day after day about his gift. I, in my young, naive, immature, and selfish way thought, "Wow! I must have really touched this kid and his mom for them to have gone and gotten ME something so special." I had no idea just how special that gift would be.

The day before the break came, and we had a big party (because in those ancient times you could actually have a big party!). I passed out all of the cupcakes, chips, candy, cookies, and drink they could possibly want and the time finally came for me to open the gifts the children offered. So, I sat down in a chair in front of them and proceeded to open, one by one, their gifts--figurines, chocolate-covered cherries, thin mints, a broken toy, and the like until they were gone. I still hadn't seen that special gift from that one child, but directly, he stood up and went to his desk to get it. He brought it to me with a HUGE smile on his face. A gift wrapped by him. I could tell by the look on his face how proud he was to be able to offer something to me--his teacher.

"Oh, what could it be?" I asked myself. I tore into the paper expecting what? I. have. NO. idea. Here was a kid who I knew did not have money or parental support offering me something. I gently opened the box with sixty eyes upon me--because remember, he had talked for WEEKS about this gift, waiting with bated breath to see what it was and how I would like it. Mostly, I opened it with his eyes on me with wide anticipation. What was it?? you're asking.......

What the gift was is not as important as what the gift did for me. This, was the day I truly grew up. I know, I was already married with two kids.....wasn't I already a grown-up? Nope! Honestly, there were still many lessons to learn......but they ALL started that day. I was enthused.......I was bright-eyed.....I was ecstatic. Why? Because this little boy, whom nobody had ever done anything for......who lived a life we don't wish on children......had shared ALL that he had with ME!

Does this remind you of someone else or another story you've heard of? How about the widow who gave her last mite at the temple? She gave all she had to Jesus and he talked about it in Mark 12. 41-44Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, "The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they'll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn't afford—she gave her all." (The Message)

Let us not be guilty of giving for the recognition it may bring us or to make ourselves feel better. God doesn't give much credence to the one who tries to make his or her gift a spectacle. I believe that giving in private is worth so much more not only to God, but to us as well. When we give sacrificially, God gets the glory, and isn't that what we want?

While the little boy in my story gave his gift to me in public, it was the most beautiful gift I have ever received from a student--the gift of selflessness. A gift I needed to learn. It was time to put away childish things and do for others. Unfortunately, it still took a few years for me to fully learn that lesson, but I have never forgotten that student. I will always remember that perfect gift. Do you want to know what it was?

A sale catalog from Sears!

1 comment:

  1. Patty, This really moved me. I too learned so much from my students, especially from ones I thought I didn't like. The special ones who'll stay with me forever.