By: Staci Stallings
I’m quite sure this is going to be no big revelation to you, but for what it’s worth… Kids Understand Love.
It’s true. I’ve been watching them and thinking about that simple but profound truth this last week. I’m not sure when, where or why the revelation came to me, but it’s been tracing through my heart for a week now, so I thought I would share it before it gets replaced by some new, profound truth that I just have to share.
Here’s the thing, I work with kids a lot. Besides having three kids of my own, I teach Sunday School, work VBS with teenagers, substitute teach, and work at both schools my kids go to. In addition to that, I have about 30 nieces and nephews of various ages, not to mention cousins I couldn’t even count. In fact, it’s safe to say that over half of my time is devoted to something having to do with kids.
One night when I went to church, I had encounters with at least five kids that I had taught or worked with over the last four years. Each one came up and gave me a hug or otherwise got my attention. “Hi, Miss Staci.” A couple I have pet names for, most I feel a deep abiding connection with. Interestingly I had never really thought about why until a few weeks ago. I thought about these kids–kids that pick me out of a crowd to say hello to or come up and hug. One waves at me every weekend when I go to Communion. One slips into my arms for a hug after every Mass we happen to attend together. A couple last year at VBS couldn’t wait to do the plays with me because they had been in my fourth grade class and enjoyed it so much.
As I thought about it, I started to wonder why these kids are little magnets to me–or me to them. It can’t be just because I stood in front of their classroom for 20 weeks, nor can it be because I made them sing or memorize the Commandments or various prayers. But there had to be a reason because there are too many now in the category of picking me out.
Then I thought back to one of the little girls, who is the one that comes up to give me a silent, quiet hug when I see her. One day, two years ago, she came up after Sunday School. Now this child doesn’t speak very clearly, but she is beautiful and very, very sweet. She’s one of those that in a large, noisy classroom can too easily slip through the cracks unnoticed. “Miss Staci, did you know my dog died last week?” I had just lost my brother, so I understood her broken heart. She had stayed after class just to tell me about her broken heart. Now I could have been so focused on getting the classroom cleaned up or getting onto the next thing, I could well have said, “Ah, that’s too bad…” and brushed her off. Some would have. Some might not have even been available or approachable enough for her to get up the courage to come up to to begin with.
I remember that moment so well because I just sat down in one of the desks and hugged her to me. “I”m so sorry. I bet you loved him a lot, huh?” The little head nodded. “Yeah, it’s hard when someone you love dies.” More nodding. I hugged her again. “Well, I’ll be praying for you. Okay?” That was the encounter that I think solidified our connection, but that wasn’t where it started. See, to the extent I can, I make it a point to establish a point of connection with each kid BEFORE we need to have it. With this little girl, who was very shy, I would call her silly names and make it a point to notice her at church and say hi. She comes from a large family, and as one of the middle kids, I think she sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. By making her special and making it a point to notice her, the connection was established and was therefore in place when she needed it.
That’s what love is. It’s not global. It’s personal. One-on-one. Do you know me? Do you SEE me? Am I important to you? Why am I important to you?
When you answer these questions for someone by saying, “Yes, I see you, and you are important to me. Here’s why…” a love connection is established.
Now here’s a profound thought. When God thinks about you, how does He answer those questions? Think about that. Really think about it because how you believe He answers those questions will determine how you choose to live life… if you think you’re on your own or not. If you think there is Someone who will listen and care when your dog dies or your job gets axed or your best friend turns on you, or a thousand other bumps and bruises you get along the way.
Kids understand love.
I think that’s why God is so very, very good at loving His kids.