Heart Matters: DIfficult Times

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It had been a difficult year. As “luck” would have it, three out
of the 12 first- and second-graders in my Sunday school class had
distinct behavior problems. Jill, Martye, and Ted were my
challenging children.

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“I’m not getting through to anyone this year,” I complained to
the teacher who had this group the year before. “I’m just spinning
wheels, trying to keep Ted and Martye from destroying the place and
Jill from hitting, biting, and name calling.”

These weren’t “bad” children. In fact, Martye and Jill gave some
of the best hugs, and Ted had the most contagious smile. But my
other students got far less attention than they deserved, heard
lots of half-completed Bible stories, and had to finish most craft
projects at home. I felt totally inadequate and wondered why I ever
thought I could share God’s love with anyone, let alone children.
Every week I prayed for help, but by the end of each class, I found
myself mentally preparing my resignation.

One Sunday morning, the class had been working especially hard
on a craft project, and things were going quite well for a change.
That was until Liza had a crisis. She wore overalls that day with
large buttons on the shoulder straps. She left the room to go to
the bathroom, but it took a long time for her to return.

After a while, I turned to see Liza standing behind me, tears
streaming down her face. She pulled me away from the craft table
and whispered, “I couldn’t get my buttons undone. Oh, Mrs. Shauers!
I got wet.”

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I knelt to hug her. Already I could envision Ted, Martye, and
Jill jumping up and down taunting Liza with shouts of “Baby, Baby
Wet-Pants!”

“We’ll find your mom,” I whispered, trying to lead Liza out of
the room before the other children noticed.

Too late.

They noticed.

“What happened?” Martye bellowed. I cringed.

“Did a mugger get her?” Ted screeched.

The other children didn’t say a word, not even Jill. I knew I
was stuck between the children’s curious stares and the exit.

“Liza’s overalls have very large buttons,” I said, desperately
praying that God would soften these kids’ hearts. “She couldn’t get
her clothes down in time.”

I held my breath waiting for the eruption, but there was none.
God answered my cries.

“Oh!” Jill gasped, touching Liza’s hand gently. With tears in
her eyes she added, “That happened to me last year at school.”

“And me one time,” Martye offered as she gave Liza a big
hug.

Ted just looked down at his feet and squirmed, but I could sense
his empathy. The other children were equally supportive. Everyone
had a comforting story to tell about a bad accident that happened
to them or a friend. Liza experienced, firsthand, Christian love
and support from all my children — even my most challenging
ones.

I, too, experienced God’s grace. I ended that session in tears
– tears of thanksgiving that God allowed me the privilege of
helping him teach these children what Christian love is all
about.

Just the other day, Ted pulled a small, slightly bent picture
from his pocket and carefully dusted off the cracker crumbs.

“It’s for you,” he said. “My new sister. I thought you’d like to
have it. She’ll be in your class, some day, when she’s big like
me.”

The good Lord willing, I’ll be in that classroom for God to help
me show Ted’s sister and other children what Christian love is all
about. cm

 

Margaret Shauers is a Sunday school teacher in Great Bend,
Kansas.

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