I fell apart with a five-year-old boy in the middle of a classroom. And by “fell apart,” I mean I maintained that calm exterior that is necessary in a room full of preschoolers, but my heart completely ripped in two.
He said he was hungry, and maybe he was, but it wasn’t the kind of hunger a handful of Cheese Nips could solve. And I wish that it was because it’s so much easier to conjure up a handful of Cheese Nips than to piece together the splintered remains of a broken heart.
So there I am, with my box of unwanted snacks, simply staring at this boy with his thick, long lashes that are laced with tears and longing.
“He wants his mommy,” one of my students sagely observes.
I’ll bet he does. I’ll bet he does. And it would be so much easier to see him cry if I knew he had a mommy to go home to. But he doesn’t. Because he was transferred to my school at the same time he was transferred to a new foster family.
He’s five years old and he has nothing to cling to in life.
He mentioned a brother, but I didn’t dare ask if they were placed in the same home. I was afraid of what the answer might be.
Can I confess something to you?
Sometimes I feel so small.
Sometimes I feel helpless and useless and completely overwhelmed by the world around me.
And while I’ve never been one to doubt that one life can make a difference, sometimes I wonder if we make difference enough.
Because my arms aren’t quite big enough to rock the whole world close to my heart.
And I realize that my presence in the life of this child is temporary. Just a few, short weeks until school is out and he passes from my life forever—gone just as quickly as he came.
It’s almost enough to make me question the purpose of giving him all I’ve got.
There’s a reason Rebekah means “Devoted.” I don’t know how to love with anything less than all I’ve got.
So I’m sitting there looking at this child, asking God why. Why would He give me something so fragile to hold for such a short time? Why would He give me the desire to nurture and mend and create wings for this child when such a task cannot possibly be done in a mere handful of weeks?
And what does one do with an untouched pile of Cheese Nips on her table and a steady stream of tears creating a puddle on her floor?
You let them stay just as they are, and you draw that child close to your heart, and you make him your world for a moment.
Yes, you make him your world, and you’ll see…
The world fits quite nicely in the curve of your arms.
You’re big enough to cradle the world, after all.
Yes, that’s how you cradle the world.
Beautiful in it’s simplicity!
Last year, one of my little students was going through a difficult family crisis that she did not fully understand. We were the only constants in her changing life. As I held her while she screamed, it absolutely tore my heart. Yet, I was also humbly grateful that God entrusted me to care for her for even a season.
Those seasons really are enough. Just think, if God provided you right then, He will surely provide someone else in that child’s future. I’m okay with being a temporary transition.