Throughout the summer there are certain faces I remember.
Faces of friends, of the pure joy on peoples’ faces, of the laughter that just can’t stop flowing out of an overfull heart, of smiles so big that they’re literally ear-to-ear, those faces are wonderful.
But sometimes I also remember the faces of the hurt, the faces of the children who are just so angry at the world, who are broken by their circumstance. The faces of those who see no hope.
The week I met this little boy was so hard. There were so many kids and they were wild; bouncing off walls all day, never slowing down for even a second. But through the whirlwind of children, this one little boy stuck out to me.
This little boy constantly needed to be spoken to. He wouldn’t listen. He would hit other kids and staff. He would scream. He would run away. He was mean to the other kids. I just decided in my heart that he was a bad kid. I didn’t think there could be something more, something deeper than what I was seeing.
Then one day.
It was the really bad day.
He actually ran away as fast as he could. He wouldn’t answer us until he got to his destination.
When he finally reached it and we asked why he ran away all he could respond with was, “Because I wanted to.”
That was it. He had misbehaved for too long and we couldn’t handle it anymore. We sat him down in the office and spoke with him. Well actually, it was more of us talking to him and him just sitting there, completely unresponsive. Finally, after ten minutes of trying, we called the office asking if there was anything we should know about him.
That phone call took a while and I had no idea what was going on. They let him do whatever he wanted after that phone call. I couldn’t figure out why. We sat in the office for a while. Silence. And then I heard the words, “he’s being hit at home.”
It’s funny how one sentence can have so much of an impact. Certain words all strung together can make you feel so much. “He’s being hit at home” is one of those sentences.
I felt so much when I heard those five simple words. I felt so sad. I felt so much hurt for him. I tried to imagine how this little boy could possibly deal with that. I wanted him to stay with us. I didn’t want him to have to go back home and letting him go home that night came with an agonising pain that I really can’t explain. I felt like I desperately needed to do something for him but I was completely unable to.
Instead I just prayed for him. And I wrote down all the things I desperately wanted him to know. This is the letter I wrote him that night.
to the boy who broke my heart,
I’m sorry that I thought you were a bad kid.
I’m really sorry I thought you were just a bad kid.
I hope you know you’re not, at all. Please don’t grow up thinking that you’re a mistake because you’re so not.
I hope you know that you were created by a perfect creator and that the way you are is the way he meant you to be.
Just because people at home make you feel like you’re not good enough does not make it true. You are good enough. You don’t have to try and be anything other than what you are and what you are is a child of God, that’s all you need to be. Just rest in that for a while, for your whole life, rest in that.
Please know that you are not defined by what is happening. You’re not defined by the bruises or the hurt that you feel. You are loved by Jesus. That’s what defines you; loved by Jesus. Nothing else. Just loved by Jesus. I hope you know that, little boy.
from the girl who couldn’t do anything.
I still remember his face. Each time I do, I just hope and pray that he would know how much he is loved.