Saturday, August 8, 2015

Loving in HIS Name~

After graduating from college, the Lord led me to New Jersey and to what would turn out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. My college roommate and dear friend, Amy, had accepted a teaching position at a Christian school there and told me about an opening at a daycare center located next door to her school. Having never ventured east of the Mississippi, this new opportunity sounded inviting. After much prayer, I packed my bags and headed for the East coast.

To my delight, I was assigned a class of adorable, rambunctious, lovable two and three year olds. Each day was an adventure in learning…them from me, and most often, me from them. I taught these free-spirited little ones how to be still and stand in a straight line. They taught me to walk to the beat of my own drum. I taught these creative minds how to hold a paintbrush and a crayon. They taught me how to hold my head high and be proud of who I am. I taught these children who were destined for greatness, how to write their name. Four years later, Stephanie would teach me it’s not your name that's important; it’s the love you give away.

Stephanie was a beautiful, energetic three year old. Every day she came dressed in the cutest outfits accompanied by a smile that would light up the room. At a casual glance, one would have assumed Stephanie’s life was as beautiful as she was. Sadly, this notion was far from the reality of her situation. Both her mother and father were in prison and she was living with her grandparents. Even though her living arrangement had change for the better, deep inside, Stephanie still lived with the hurt, pain and abuse that had been such a part of the first three years of her young life.

All of my students quickly warmed up to me and welcomed me into their world. All, that is, except Stephanie. She kept her guard up and never let herself get too close or too comfortable with anyone. How my heart broke for her. Each day I prayed the Lord would pour out His perfect love through me, freeing Stephanie from her own prison of hurt, pain and loneliness; healing this precious little girl of her brokenness.

Weeks turned into months. As we spent time together each day, Stephanie gradually began to lower the emotional wall that had separated her from me. One memorable day, as we were taking a walk in a nearby park, I felt a little hand take hold of mine. It was Stephanie’s. From that moment on, Stephanie and I were heart to heart. The year soon came to an end and so did my time with these precious children. I had accepted a teaching position in Wisconsin and was headed to the Mid-west.

Four years later, my husband and I had the opportunity to visit my friend in New Jersey and to once again go to the daycare where I had taught. As I experienced the familiarity of each classroom and gazed into the eyes of the children now attending, I couldn’t help wishing I could once again see the children who had touched my heart four years earlier. I casually shared this desire with one of the current teachers. Naturally, the children in my class had long since moved on to other cities and schools. One child, however, had enrolled at the Christian school next door. Imagine the joy I felt when I learned this child was none other than Stephanie.

We excitedly made our way to the school and then to Stephanie’s classroom. I anxiously peeked through the window in the classroom door and began scouring the sea of children for this one familiar face. From the far corner of the room, a young girl turned around to speak to a fellow classmate. As she did, she spotted me spotting her through the window and immediately came running in my direction.

Blurry running girl
{Photo Credit}
I burst into the room and ran to meet her. Stephanie buried her head in my stomach as she embraced me with every ounce of her being. When she finally lifted her head and turned her beautiful face upward to look at me, I couldn’t believe God had blessed me with this unexpected reunion.

As I looked into her eyes, I asked in total amazement, “You still remember me after all these years? You were just three years old when I last saw you.” Then Stephanie said the words I will never forget; words that brought tears not only to my eyes, but also to the eyes of my husband as he witnessed one of the most priceless moments of my entire life.

“I don’t remember your name,” she said, “but I know you love me”.

How fitting that Stephanie didn’t remember my name. My name wasn’t important. Who I was didn’t matter. Amazingly, I was simply the one, hand picked by God, to touch the heart of this precious child with His healing love. What an awesome honor I had been given. My name had long since been forgotten, but it was obvious the love she had received never would be.

As I stood captivated in this divinely orchestrated moment in time, I humbly thanked God. I thanked Him for leading me to New Jersey. I thanked Him for bringing Stephanie into my classroom and into my life. I thanked Him for His incredible love that sets the captives free and heals the most broken of hearts. I thanked him for the incredible honor we have all been given: to love others in HIS name.

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