Graduating college was exciting because that summer I was going to be getting married. So I had an answer for the now-what-are-you-going-to-do question.
Me–I’m getting married.
Me–I don’t know. I guess I’ll find a job.
And that’s what I did. Chris still had one year left of school, so it was up to me to make sure we could pay our bills. I found a job at a daycare center in downtown St. Paul: the Union Gospel Mission Childcare Center. I was a lead teacher for the 3 year olds–the Fish– in the preschool room. Our kids were basically from the innercity with a small minority being a little more well to do.
It didn’t take long to fall into a groove there. There wasn’t much choice. It was a situation where you had to figure it out fast OR be eaten alive. When I walked through the doors to work, I left ALL of my baggage outside. Being surrounded by innercity preschoolers FORCES you to concentrate. Even if you tried to daydream, you couldn’t. There was no way. Between chasing after kids who were throwing sand at each other and feeding all 25 preschoolers and getting them to the potty and getting them on their cots and doing circle time and pulling together a craft and planning for the next week and washing all the toys and taking your break and feeding the kids their snack and cleaning up after accidents, there wasn’t time for anything else.
Shortly after I was hired, a new family started coming to UGMCC. They had 4 kids ages 5, 4, 3, 20 months (kind of sounds like my family a little bit). We dubbed them “The Mons” since all their names began with M-O-N. From the first day they arrived, they were terrors. I remember all too well being in the classroom with a relatively calm free playtime and seeing them coming in the front door.
I announced, “The Mons are here!” And I, with the three other teachers in the room, frantically raced around the room “battening down the hatches.” I put the sensory table away–taking it away from the kids who were playing nicely– and the other teachers picked up anything else that could do damage and put them in cupboards.
It was in those early days while I was helping Montiana–the only girl of the bunch who was one of the smallest in our room, but she made up for it with her BIG personality–settle down for her nap that she reached up to touch the cross at my neck, grabbed the chain, yanked, and broke my necklace. My necklace was a gift from Chris (remember we had only been married a couple of months), and I was so angry. She had broken my necklace on purpose. This had NOT been an accident. She had done it purposefully to see how I would respond. I remember thinking, “I HATE you.” I didn’t say it, but oh, how I wanted to.
I made it through the rest of the day. And as I was driving home that evening, I couldn’t stop mulling over what had happened. I was SO angry. I didn’t ever want to see that little girl again. Somehow in the midst of my self-pity and hatred of a little bitty girl, God got my attention. I honestly don’t know HOW He got my attention, but He did. He put this thought in my brain.
“I’m going to love her! I am going to love her so much it hurts.”
What other choice was there? How was hating going to solve anything?
Loving her made all the difference. Oh, she was still as naughty as can be. She didn’t change at that moment, but I did. From then on, her and her little brother were mine. Montiana and I had a song that we would sing to each other because we called each other babygirl, and no matter how much her actions hurt someone I was ALWAYS her advocate.
She was still held responsible for her choices, but she knew she could trust me to be fair and loving. Because love her, I did.
When I think of that story, I think of God’s love for us. I understand it a little bit better–not fully, mind you, but a little. It’s easy to love someone who is nice to you, but God chose to love us while we were still sinners (while we rejected him and nailed him to the cross)–Romans 5:8. 1 Peter 2:9-10 says
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not recieved mercy, but now you have received mercy.
It’s amazing to me that God chooses us to be His. He is our advocate and He will always be just and loving. Just because He loves us so MUCH!
After I made the decision to love Montiana, I missed her when we she wasn’t there. After I resigned my position, I kept their phone number and tried to stay in contact regularly. After a while, we lost touch (but no worries. We are back in touch through facebook (now that she’s 14) and thanks to my friend Jennifer for that reminder), but Montiana will always, and I mean ALWAYS, have a special place in my heart.
|I love you, Babygirl!|