It’s the eve of your Spiritual Birthday, and I wanted to take a moment and record a testimony of God’s work in you–an altar of praise that you can revisit in the years to come. Because as we journey with Jesus on this earth, I’ve found that it’s important to have those moments and memories where we not only record the faithfulness of our God throughout our lives, but where we also recall the track record of His covenant hand. Sometimes the memory of His work in our lives is the very spark that creates a fiery hope that burns bright for the next part of the journey–a spiritual kindling of sorts!
So let me begin.
This year marks your fourth year in school! How in the world are you already in 3rd grade?!? It all seems rather unbelievable to a mama who just greeted you through labored tears and who changed your diaper, but alas…we are here, and you are growing!
Every year, since Kindergarten, you have had a quarter in which you have been assigned to sit by this one, particular boy. We will leave him unnamed because that’s not the point of this testimony any way. But suffice to say, this little boy struggles. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, he’s struggled. He crowds your space, talks loud in your ears, and is constantly asking you questions. He struggles with his speech, with his desk work, and with finding friends who will understand and accept him. He’s written on your papers, ripped up your papers, and even taken your papers. He’s a nice kid and yet…his struggles are a struggle for you (and usually for his teacher and peers as well). And every single year (without fail), your seat has been assigned near his.
This year, at the beginning of 3rd grade, you were placed by him on the very first day, and those first days were a struggle.
Coming home from school, I could see your exhaustion; I could hear your irritation; and I could feel your battle. We talked about it; we prayed about it; and we decided that there was a reason that your chair was next to his…a reason why your soul was placed next to his.
Three days into school, I bumped into your Kindergarten teacher and she asked how you were doing. I shared how much you were enjoying your teacher and how much you were growing. And in quick-passing, I mentioned that you were learning (again) how to handle your difficult desk-mate. I recalled how much you had matured in handling those who were different than you and how thankful I was for the growth that had occurred since Kindergarten. It was a short and sweet conversation, and I left thankful and teary-eyed. I had NO clue that she would share this conversation with your current teacher, nor was that EVER my intention.
Later that day, you met me on the sidewalk after school and simply said, “I was given a big decision today.”
“Yes. My teacher pulled me aside at recess and told me that she heard that I am always assigned to sit by ________, and she told me that she knows that isn’t always easy. She told me that she would be willing to let me switch seats if I wanted to.”
“Oh wow. That is a big decision.”
“I already told her that we talked about it at home and decided that it would be helpful for me to sit there. So I told her ‘no,’ but she told me to think about it tonight and that if I changed my mind, I could let her know tomorrow.”
Immediately, you burst into tears.
“It’s so hard, mommy. He can be so frustrating. I just want to change. I can’t sit by him every day for 9 weeks.”
I held you on the front porch and listened through your overwhelmed tears.
“Buddy, I’m proud of you that you remembered our talk, and I’m proud of you for not always taking the easy way. I know this is hard. I can’t make the decision for you; that’s yours to make. However, I do believe that God can use hard things to grow good things.”
You nodded your head, and we left it at that.
Later that night, you talked with daddy about the decision. Your daddy reminded you that it was your decision and though it could be growing for you, neither mommy or daddy knew how hard that experience was for you. He encouraged you to make the decision, and we moved on with our evening.
That night, after you went to bed, daddy and I talked about your big decision. As we went to bed that night, we came to a place where we felt confident that either decision would be fine with us, and that we wanted you to make the choice.
In the morning, nothing was said and nothing more was asked.
I prayed for you throughout that school day and when I saw you leave those doors at the end of the day, I could barely wait to talk with you.
Confidently and simply, you reported, “I decided to stay.”
Recognizing that you weren’t in a space to process, I responded, “I think you made the hard decision, and I’m going to be asking the Holy Spirit to help you show ________ love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.”
Throughout the last few weeks, you’ve asked for prayer regarding this desk mate; you’ve aired some frustrations; and you’ve even highlighted some moments that weren’t “so bad.” You never felt excited about the choice to sit by him, but you never seemed overwhelmed either. But son, there would have been a time (last year) where you would have been un-done by this decision. You would have struggled with your attitude; your cutting words would have been present often; and your tendency to be critical and pessimistic would have colored your perspective.
But this year, there has been little of that.
One day (last week) you came home and exclaimed with exhaustion, “He even chooses to sit by me at library, mommy! Everywhere I am, he goes!”
“Why do you think he does that?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you think it’s possible that you treat him with kindness and respect, and he feels that? Do you think it’s possible that your presence makes him feel safe?”
You sat there on the picnic table, quietly kicking stones and thinking.
“Caden, did you worship God at school today?”
“I don’t think so,” you responded with hesitation.
“Did you sing a song to Him?”
“Did you read your Bible at school?”
“Did you bow your head and pray?”
“Caden, I still think you worshiped.”
“I think you sang the song of sacrifice; I think you bore the cross of suffering; and I think you loved like Jesus. And that is worship, buddy.”
You looked at me with quiet-big eyes.
“Caden, sometimes worship looks like loving when it’s hard, giving when you don’t want to, and serving when you’d rather not. That’s worship, buddy. And you know what? When you worship, others see that testimony. They can feel your love, and they can sense the difference. Caden, that difference is Jesus, and I can see the Holy Spirit at work in you.”
Grabbing your football, you went back to your backyard game. Very much like you, you left without a word but with many thoughts in your head. And as I headed to the house, I thanked God for the evidence of answered prayer. Because buddy, mommy prays (often and fervently) for the Holy Spirit to root your faith and grow your walk.
That conversation was on a Wednesday of last week, September 4th, 2019 to be exact.
Three days later, a post card came in the mail addressed for you.
It read as follows:
Thank you for being such a kind and patient classmate. I love having you in my class.
As I read along with you, my eyes filled with hot tears. Looking up from the postcard, you exclaimed, “Why did she send that to me?!?”
I responded with the first words that came to mind.
“Maybe she’s heard your song of worship and thought it was sweet?”
With a smile the size of a football, you re-read the note.
Caden, I don’t know the plans the Lord has for you, but I pray that you will continue to let your life be a song that sings of Him. I pray that your love will be a tune of difference, and I pray that others will want to join that song because they (too) have found notes that can’t be found in any other song.
Son, your daddy and I love you something fierce, and we can see His light and love burning bright in you. We can see the work of His hands in the past year, and we can hear the song of His salvation in you! Keep singing, Caden; keep singing!