As I wrapped up my return to teaching, prior to Christmas, all of my family members stopped into school to see “the people.” The people, my third graders, don’t just get to know me when I serve as their teacher. Each and every one of them becomes special and cherished to me, as well as to my husband, son, and daughter. And so as soon as her college finals were finished, my daughter, the last Jagger to visit, made her way to my elementary school.
My daughter is very well-known around the area and Alissa’s visit was a celebration for the whole school. I’ve tried to explain to her how much people, especially children, need to lean into her. She proves over and over every day that life may not go the way you hope it will go, but there’s still life to be lived. And by golly, we will live it as joyfully as possible!
Children from all four third grade classes did everything they could to be near Alissa and speak to her. They adored her. For example, that day in one of my reading groups I said, “Now the ladies are going to work with Alissa for awhile and the gentlemen are going to work with Mrs. Jagger.” One little boy immediately booed me. Who wanted to be stuck with the old teacher when there was a chance you could work with young, pretty Alissa?
But it was the story of the “Fruit Cup” which packed the most punch that day. It was a Friday and many students in the school receive a “Boomerang Backpack” for the weekend. Every week, generous, wonderful volunteers from the community fill these bags with healthy snacks for youngsters to take home. I’ve always lived in a world where food has been guaranteed.
Others do not have that luxury.
And so unbeknownst to me on that hectic afternoon, close to dismissal, one youngster in the school found a way to get close to Alissa. The child approached her holding out a single fruit cup. A fruit cup the child had obviously just received as part of the weekend food bag.
The child sidled right up to Alissa in her wheelchair. “Would you like a fruit cup?” Alissa, immediately realizing what the child was offering her and how it had been obtained, quickly responded, “Oh no. No. But thank you. I’m not very hungry at all right now.”
The persistent child continued with an enormous smile, “Well, you may not be hungry now, but I don’t want you to be hungry later!”
Those impactful words were obviously spoken by one who knew exactly what it felt like to be hungry later. Alissa gratefully accepted the lone fruit cup, as the child gleefully and joyfully skipped away.
When we got home we placed it in our pantry, beside seven or eight other fruit cups on a shelf, where I’m embarrassed to say, there was plenty of food. There was not a chance in the world any of us would be hungry that weekend. Or the entire Christmas season, for that matter.
For almost all of us, we give from our abundance. Rarely does it “cost us.” This youngster did anything but give from abundance. This child gave from the heart. At a cost. That fruit cup would probably be needed that weekend. Yet, the child had given radically, given joyously, given until it hurt.
This child, who I have reason to believe has never stepped foot inside a church, doesn’t go to bed each night listening to a Bible story, and doesn’t pray with parents, exemplified more sacrificial giving than I’ve ever witnessed.
What will we give this year that will cost us? Will we give financially until it hurts? Probably not. If you’re like me, you give what you know you can do without, not what you know you will need.
Will we offer forgiveness to someone who in no way deserves being forgiven, and in fact, if things were “fair” would owe us big time? I have to offer that kind of forgiveness to someone on almost a daily basis. Let me tell you, it costs me enormously to forgive that driver every time I do it. That’s a hard one, Dear Reader. Offering forgiveness to the person who paralyzed your child is no easy task. And I sadly realize some of you, too, have situations where offering forgiveness simply cuts you to the core.
Will we give of our time this year when time is in short supply and great demand? Isn’t it true? Isn’t it sometimes so much easier to throw money at a situation or person instead of our time?
I’ve asked myself; now I ask you: How many “fruit cups” will you and I sacrificially and joyfully give this year? I don’t know, but I know I have an awesome, awesome youthful example in my life.
And a little child shall lead them.
Until next Wednesday, Lord willing. Also, my tech person has posted some more photographs on the homepage of my blog. I invite you to check them out.