It was cold this particular Saturday. Really cold. Windy and cold. An easy morning to stay in bed. An easy morning for children to lay around on the sofa watching cartoons. Not the best day to be out around town, especially not a day to be standing in line waiting for your turn to enter the community food pantry. Thank goodness God provided a warm place to eat a hot breakfast while they wait.
I’m outside in the parking lot when I notice a little girl. She can’t be more than eight. She is carrying a bag. My mind starts asking a thousand questions. Who does she belong to? What is she doing out here? Is someone aware of where she is and what she is doing?
I have seen so many things that I still have a hard time relating to since being around these children who grow up with the challenges of low socioeconomic status, broken families, disconnected from mom and dad, the list goes on and on. A lot of times they are used to being responsible for themselves, taking care of their own needs, not connected to other people. Sometimes they act up in school because they are so disconnected from the fact that someone loves them. They have never experienced it.
Whenever I see a child with that look, my heart immediately breaks and my mind begins to race. What does she need? Why is she here? Children shouldn’t be here. They should be sleeping, laughing, playing, hugging, eating waffles with their favorite people on a Saturday morning. Unfortunately, we have learned, for some children, they can’t sleep much at home because they don’t feel safe. They can’t laugh at home because their homes are not run by joy, peace, and love but by fear, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, selfishness, and anger. There is no hugging, no wrestling with daddy in the floor, no making waffles with mommy, no laughter filling the living room, kitchen, or any other room. Come to think of it...maybe the community food pantry is the best place to be.
She approaches me with her bag. I wonder what she needs? I ask her name and where she goes to school so I can form an instant connection. Harvest Elementary. I begin to talk to her about her teachers that I know. She smiles. She must feel loved there. Teachers have a special way of doing that...making people feel loved. Maybe that is why God designed teaching to be a lower paying profession. You can only do it day and day out if you care about children more than money. Imagine who would be working in our schools if teaching paid well? Probably wouldn’t be the kids who were winning.
She has a beautiful smile. Her face shines as I mention her administrators, PE teacher, art teacher, her classroom teacher. Yes...she loves her school. Good job Harvest Elementary. The report card from a child living in brokenness says more than any report card from Montgomery. I think Jesus would say that.
I ask her what she needs this morning. She hands me her bag. Baby clothes that were a gift. Her little sister was too big for them. She wanted to give to them someone that would “use them,” she says. “You brought them to the right place!” I tell her. I thank her and give her a big hug. She gives me more of that huge grin.
My mind flashes back to Luke 21. The widow that put those two mites in the treasury. “Out of her poverty, she gave all that she had,” Jesus says. Amazing what people give out of their poverty and amazing how much joy it can bring when they do.