She was a pretty quiet little girl. I couldn’t ever get her to talk. In fact, when she saw me walking down the hall, she would look at the floor or the wall. Maybe because she was always up to something, or she was always waiting for something to find her out. And unfortunately, as it often does in small schools, her reputation preceded her...everywhere. That’s how it usually goes. From classroom to classroom, year to year. What does it take for someone to get a fresh start? It can seem impossible in this world. Maybe that’s why people give up so easy. She already had.
She had a problem with stealing. All it takes is once. Take one classmates’ snack and everyone knows. And every time something comes up missing, even if it was just misplaced, everyone already knows where to point the finger. Needless to say, a lot of fingers were being pointed her way when yet another snack came up missing.
I’m not the smartest guy, but I do know that there is always a reason for why we do what we do. I’ve been around enough to know that people steal so their children can eat. People steal to help their mom pay the bills. People steal because they don’t have and they don’t know any other way to get. I’m not saying it’s right. I’m not passing on responsibility or accountability...I’m just stating the facts.
When I called her out in the hallway, she was pretty straightforward. “I didn’t have one. So I took his.” Pretty simple, really. Nothing hard to understand about that. “And the other three times?” I ask. “Same story?” She nods her head.
“I got an idea. What if every day you don’t have a snack, you just let me know and I get you one?” Keep some snacks in my office. Easy fix.
The minute those words come out of my mouth...her eyes well up with tears and she grabs me around the waist. Over a snack. A bag of Cheez-its. A pack of fruit snacks. Some crackers. Tears and a hug.
Who would have thought a pack of crackers would be all that it took for a child to know that someone cares? That Cheez-its would help them understand that you love them?
If it’s so rare for a child to receive a pack of crackers from someone that they cry over it, what else are they missing? That question I’ll probably never know the answer to. But there is one I can answer. How is she going to feel when she is at school? The answer is “loved.” All day, every day. Cheez-its and fruit snacks every day.
I couldn’t get her to talk before. She’s still a pretty quiet little girl. But one thing has changed. When she sees me in the hallway, instead of staring at the floor, I get a hug. Every time. It’s well worth the cost of Cheez-its. I don’t know when the last time she stole a snack was. But I can tell you the last time she stole someone’s heart.
“If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” 1 John 3:17