Point of View | Forgiveness | Anger

Point of View

She likes pretty things. Pretty is pink and purple, fluffy and soft, glitter and shine, satin and frills. Her room is pretty. Its walls are lavender and the curtains are sheer and bright. Her bed is large and deep, its covers plush and warm. She has a princess bedside lamp and a silver snow globe that plays “Over the Rainbow” when you wind the key. She laid out her clothes last night before bed; today she will wear her light blue jeans with the sequined hearts on the pockets and her favorite shirt- the long-sleeved one that says ‘Adorable’ across the front. She wakes to the slam of the kitchen door and the sound of a car starting in the driveway. She leaves the warmth of her bed and hurries to the window. She waves to her mommy as she sees the car speed down the street trailing a plume of smoke. Daddy calls upstairs that she’d better get a move on or he’ll be late. She slips out of her pajamas and finds clean underwear and socks in her drawer. She has trouble with the socks and it takes her a while to get them on just right. “Honey, come on! What is taking you so long?” He looms in the doorway and moves into the room. In one hurried movement he grabs her arm, gathers up her pants and a sweater from the closet, and rushes out and down the stairs into the kitchen. “You have to get dressed right now and eat your breakfast.” He steps into the bathroom and she sits on the cold floor to pull on her blue jeans. As she stands to put on her sweater she remembers her shirt. It will only take a second so she rushes back upstairs to put it on. But in her haste she has misjudged the openings and she struggles to force her head into the wrong hole. “What are you doing?” He is holding the sweater that he found on the kitchen floor and he looks very angry. His voice has startled her and she involuntarily steps back. Tripping over herself she falls into her bed stand. Her princess lamp wobbles once and then falls to the floor, emitting a brilliant last flash before the bulb shatters. Her father reaches out to her but his hand finds its only hold around her neck. He is a strong man and he lifts her by the neck and scoops her up to carry her back downstairs. Her sweater is forced over her head and she is stuffed into a winter coat. With her in one hand and her boots in the other they head to the car. The ride to school is dark and cold.

1

At school he takes off her coat and puts it and her boots into her cubby. He leads her to her classroom and leaves her alone to begin her day. She enters the classroom slowly and silently, moving as if unsure of her surroundings. She follows the morning routine: name card moved, hand washing, go to a play area until circle time. When her teacher announces “Time for circle,” she is lost in her own make believe world in the housekeeping center. She is wearing a blue and gold dress up gown, ruby red high heels and she is holding a baby doll as if it were the most precious thing in the world. “Jada, it is time for circle- put away your things and come to the carpet.” Jada turns and looks toward her teacher but makes no move to comply. “Jada Monroe come to the carpet right now.” She puts away her pretty doll and the dress up clothes and makes her way to the circle where the children are singing the ‘good morning’ song. As she sits criss-cross with her hands folded in her lap it is her turn to greet the class. But her face begins to tighten instead and the dimples that sometimes frame her smile now form around a small sad face with great big tears. __________________________________________________________ He is a big man thanks to years working as a laborer in construction and on the line at the plant. His current job is good one. He gets good hours, his boss is fair, and the pay is okay. But lately he has wanted more from life, a break from the struggle, a piece of the pie, or maybe just a rest. In January he finally made the move, he enrolled in two classes at the college- a first step toward his degree in business. He tells himself that with a degree he can get better pay and then maybe, just maybe, a better life would actually be attainable. He is amazed however at how much work his two courses are proving to be and he is dismayed at how much of a strain the tuition has put on their already tight budget. His wife works for a cleaning company. Her pay is not great but they give her a lot of opportunity to work extra. The only drawback is that she has to leave very early in the morning and is often on her way well before he or their daughter are even awake. That means that it falls to him to get their daughter ready for school each day. To be honest, he is not very good at doing what would seem to be a very simple task. There just never seems to be enough time in the mornings; it seems that no matter how well

2

organized he tries to be, something always happens to mess things up. And this morning he simply cannot be late. His boss has given him warning; one more 'tardy' and his pay will be docked. To make matters worse he and his wife were arguing again this morning about their ever-present stumbling block, money. There has never really been enough anyway, and now there is quite a bit less. In the brief time that they actually had to talk to each other before she stormed out the door they had managed to lay into each other pretty well; unloosing all of their pent up frustration and worry into the already charged morning atmosphere of their home. Her slamming of the door was just another symptom of a life that was getting increasingly difficult to navigate. He calls upstairs to his daughter, “Get a move on sweetie, we’ve got to go or I’ll be late.” This part of his day is his least favorite. It is simply impossible to get that girl up and out of the house by 6:30 AM. But if they are not out the door by 6:30 he cannot get her to school by 6:45 and therefore he cannot punch in by 7:00. He is an efficient man and he keeps trying to perfect the system. While she dresses, he showers and shaves, packs his lunch, gets her breakfast ready, and puts out her boots and coat. This done, he moves upstairs to hurry her along; it is already 6:25. The argument has cost him precious time. “Honey, come on, what is taking you so long?” He sees her just finishing with her socks and still only in her underwear. His frayed nerves flare and he feels his temper beginning to give. He picks up the first clothes that he sees available in one hand, his daughter in the other, and heads back to the kitchen. “You have to get dressed now and eat your breakfast.” He steps into the bathroom to take a breath and to calm down a bit. He catches his eyes in the mirror and he pauses to stare at himself. “Who are you, man? Is that really you?” He’s got nothing this morning but questions; no answers appear to be forthcoming from the man in the mirror. He’s just got to believe that it will all work out all right. “Just got to believe,” he says. As he steps out of the bathroom he glances at the clock: 6:30. He sees an uneaten breakfast on the table and an un-bodied sweater on the kitchen floor. Where did she go, and what is she doing? This time he runs up the stairs, his adrenaline beginning to flow, his calm evaporating. As he reaches her room he is completely exasperated to see her standing in the center of her bedroom with her shirt impossibly tangled about her head and shoulders. He shouts at her, “What are you doing?”

3

The volume of his voice and his underlying anger scare her and he sees her little body startle and the involuntary step back that she takes. And he sees the bed stand right behind her and her falling even before it happens. He is already emotionally fired up and his grab at her to stop her fall is immediate and quick. But he is too late and he is off target. The lamp falls off the table onto the floor, its bulb shattering, and his hand, which was reaching for her shoulder instead closes around her small neck. The chaos of the moment and his complete frustration at not being able to control even the smallest aspect of this morning routine find their outlet in the strength of his hands. He squeezes his fists in anger and she is lifted off the floor and tucked under his arm. She is carried out of the room and down the stairs and out the door. As he reaches into the car to fasten her seatbelt he sees her for the first time that morning. Her eyes are wide and brimmed with tears. Her throat is red and her little arms are wrapped around herself in a big, yet inadequately little, hug. He is so sorry. He wants so much more than this for her, for his family. But it is hard, this life he leads. It is often nothing more than one trial after another, and hardly a break in between at that. It is all he can do to get her to school and into the building without breaking down. He can’t even look at her teacher, who could not possibly understand either himself or his teary eyed daughter with the slowly bruising neck. It’s 6:50- he’s going to be late again. __________________________________________________________ The teacher claps his hands together and announces, “It’s time for circle everyone. Clean up your areas and come to the carpet.” The teacher supervises the cleanup and redirects wayward children as needed. He can always count on at least one child to need a little more direction than the others; and this morning it is Jada who is dawdling the most. “Jada, it is time for circle. Put away your things and come over.” Her teacher has noticed that mornings are certainly not Jada’s ‘thing.’ She often arrives at school looking either sullen or sleepy, he can never tell for sure which. In an attempt to lighten her mood in the morning he has taken to joking with her about it. Today he tells her, “It’s 9:00 AM, it is

4

okay to smile now, really! Did you know that some people even smile when they first wake up?” But she is unresponsive to his humor and just stares at him with her big eyes and expressionless face. He waits a few more moments, to give her time to register his command to clean up, but she gives no indication of having even heard him. He adopts his ‘teacher’s voice’ and says, “Jada Monroe, come to the carpet right now.” The combination of the tone of his voice and the use of both of her names triggers a response and he waits for her as she takes off her dress up clothes and carefully puts away her baby doll. As Jada joins the other children who are gathered on the carpet, she sits down, ‘crisscross,’ with her hands folded in her lap. Soon the song begins, “Hello, how are you?” It is their ‘good morning’ song. Each child is greeted in turn and is encouraged to share their feelings. Usually circle time is predictable; the news is an assortment of illnesses and complaints, excited expectations of upcoming vacations, new pets or toys, or sometimes even a new baby in the house. But today is definitely ‘one of those days.’ A day when the real world enters the artificial world of the classroom and forces their teacher to question his role in their lives and his ability to do that which he feels called to do; which is to help save them. “Hello, how are you? How are you today Jada?” The children stop their happy song as they turn to Jada and await her participation. But she doesn’t respond, she simply stares at her teacher. When the children repeat the question Jada’s eyes grow wide and she begins to weep; soon, big tears are spilling over her eyelids and rolling down her cheeks. “Oh, Jada, don’t cry. What is wrong sweetheart?” Her big dimples are tight across her face and she is barely understandable as she sobs, “My Daddy… He choked my neck.” And there is silence in the room for the first time that morning as the children try to process the heaviness of her words and tears. He too is silenced as he watches her cry, but his anger rises against her father and he quietly fumes against the outrage of this abuse upon such an innocent child. How could he do something like that? She is such a little girl; what a bully, what a degenerate, what a coward. He moves next to her and asks, “Do you want a hug?” She doesn’t want a hug, and he is disappointed because he really wants to pick her up and hold her and tell her that he loves her and that she’ll be okay and that she is safe.

5

But he can’t. Truth is, he is not the one who should be telling her these things; he is not her father. She belongs to him and he is the one who should be doing this for her, not her teacher. But if that were true then what is his role at the school and in the lives of these kids? He is definitely more than just a teacher; he spends way too much time in their lives for that. As these thoughts pass through his mind in the short time that it takes for Jada to break down completely, he is struck by a wave of other thoughts, uncomfortable thoughts. He remembers losing his patience with his own son just last week and slapping him out of frustration. He remembers blowing up at his wife a day or two after that when she came to him with a simple request. And he remembers his short temper only yesterday when he responded very forcefully to two children who were fighting over a silly toy. He now realizes that in those three instances he had easily rationalized his behavior: his son deserved correction, his wife was inconsiderate of his time, and these children are enough to make anybody lose their cool. Now, however, he sees those behaviors from different perspective. He sees the pain he had caused others and the fact that he had hurt them simply because he was not in control of his own behavior. What does that make him then? Does that not make him just as much of a bully as he has judged Jada’s father to be? Does that not make him as much of an abuser as he is? He became a teacher because of a deep love in his heart for children. He believes that his gift for teaching comes directly from God and he recognizes that his own life experiences make him ideally suited to work with children whose home lives are difficult and whose family circumstances are less advantaged than others. His own childhood was difficult, to say the least. He remembers the turmoil of his teenage years and the trouble that his uncontrollable anger caused him and those who had tried to love him. He sees that very same turmoil in the lives of others. He sees the despair written on the faces of some of the teenagers he works with at the church and he sees the results of that trouble and its effect upon the lives of the youngest students he works with at school, like Jada. What he wants more than anything is to help save these children from the dismal future that lies in wait for them by offering to them, and helping them to obtain, a better future. A future that he himself has found, a future filled with Hope and Love instead of anger and despair. That is a worthy goal, but he has a lot to learn, and a lot to remember.

6

He has forgotten that just as he was pulled out of a terrible life of sin by a loving God who had overlooked his transgressions in order to grant him a better future, he must in return work to overlook the mistakes of those yet to be saved in order to help them receive the same gift. In his rush to judgment and righteous anger he has forgotten that he is much like the parents that he so easily condemns as inferior to himself. He has forgotten that they need the same grace and forgiveness that he needed; that he still needs today. He has to begin learning that his role in the world is not to save anybody, but rather to help others to meet the Savior. He has to learn that God desires him to do that by simply reaching out in love to all people, regardless of where they are or who they might be. He has to learn to see all of mankind as children of a God who loves very much and desires nothing more for them that they be drawn close to Him. He is learning these things, slowly perhaps, but nevertheless learning them. He gives Jada’s hand a little squeeze and quietly prays forgiveness from His Father. Thank you Lord for Your grace, mercy, and forgiveness. And thank You above all for Your love to me. May I be more like you in my love for your children. Amen.

7

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful