I was baking heart shaped valentines cookies for my kids when I thought of him again. Just like the other times before this, my heart felt heavy. Whenever I thought about that day I would actually feel my heart ache. It wasn’t a great alarming pain; it felt more like someone was putting pressure against my heart. I felt the need to slowly exhale to find some relief. As soon as I felt this familiar feeling again, I did what I had been doing every time I felt this way over the past year and a half. I paused what I was doing and started to pray. It was the only thing I could do; well pray and remember that is…
It was a typical Sunday morning for me. The exact same kind of Sunday morning I had almost every week. My children woke up at 6am and I started the process of dressing them, feeding them, brushing teeth, brushing hair, and getting us out the door and to the 9am service at our church. I volunteer in the 4 and 5 year old room at our church which is one of the highlights of my week! I genuinely look forward to that hour spent volunteering with the kids every week! Although I love working with the kids, it can become routine and after a while the reasons “why” it’s important can become buried in the back of my mind.
I was working the sign in desk that particular Sunday morning. I was greeting the kids as they arrived and helping the parents register their children for the class.
As I looked to the next parent in line to sign her child in, I saw a sweet unfamiliar face staring back at me. “This is Jake” his mother introduced. “This is his first time here and he’s a little nervous”. I knelt down and smiled at Jake. “Hi, my name is Miss Pam and I’m going to be your teacher today. “I could really use a special helper.” “Do you think you could be my special helper today?” I asked. He nodded his head and smiled. I took him by the hand and led him into the classroom. “Come with me” I encouraged “ and I’ll show you where the coolest toys are!” For the rest of the morning Jake took his role as “special helper” very seriously. He stayed close to me helping me during the lesson, participating in the game, and setting up the craft table with crayons and paper, and even helping to clean up. We were happily chatting away the entire time. He was such a sweet, smart and charming little guy. Jake seemed to be fascinated with every activity and was asking a steady stream of questions throughout the class time. We had close to 15 minutes left of the class when the children were ushered to the craft centre to work on a project. The children were commissioned to draw a picture of their favorite things. Jake began to draw a beautiful scene and was taking great care with every detail he added. After 10 minutes the other children had completed their artwork and had gone to play with the wooden toys. Jake was the only child who remained coloring in his seat. I pulled up a chair and sat next to him. “I love your picture” I commented. “Thanks!” he said. “It’s a picture of me and my Dad playing together.” “ Playing with my dad is my most favourite thing!” he exclaimed. Jake didn’t make eye contact with me and continued to color as he spoke. “You know…” he ventured “That lady who dropped me off today isn’t my REAL Mom.”
“She’s my foster Mom.”
“ Last night FACS came and took me away from my home.” he said.
My heart sank and a lump instantaneously emerged in my throat.
I had spent the past hour with this sweet little boy having no idea the heavy heart he was carrying.
Jake stopped coloring and sat very still looking down at his picture for a few seconds. He slowly placed the blue crayon down the the table and turned to look me straight in the eyes.
“Miss Pam, Why did they take me away?” he asked.
I suddenly felt as if I had no air in my lungs. I could neither inhale or exhale. I quickly bit down on the inside of my cheek in an effort to control the tears that were now filling my eyes. This sweet, sweet child. His brown eyes held my gaze without looking away. He was waiting for an answer. I reached out and took his pudgy little hand in mine. I started slowly, “You know what Jake…I’m not sure why that happened.” “That must have been very hard for you.” He nodded his head yes and his gaze drifted away.
“Can I tell you something?” I ventured softly. He looked at my again and nodded. “ I am so happy that you came here today!” “I have LOVED spending the morning hanging out with you! “I think that you are VERY VERY special.” “ In fact, I think you are one of the coolest kids I have ever met!” he smiled and sighed
“I just really want to go back home” he whimpered.
I leaned over and hugged him. “I know buddy” I replied. He wrapped his little arms around me and held on tight. I could feel the warm tears streaming down my face. There was no stopping them now. I was overcome by his pain and sadness.
Just then his foster Mom walked into the room. She took one look at the two of us and whispered “I’m guessing he told you.” I nodded my head yes. I was still trying to keep my emotions bottled up and wasn’t even sure what would come out of my mouth if I attempted to speak. “I can’t tell you much” she said “but I will tell you that he’s come from a very bad situation.” “Please pray for him when you think of him”.
I quickly wiped my eyes, put on a smile, and said goodbye to my little friend Jake.
As I drove home from church that day, I was reminded that every moment matters. The big exciting moments matter just as much as the little routine moments. In that moment we needed each other. Jake needed to be reminded that he was not alone, and I needed to be reminded that no moment serving others is insignificant.
I was reminded how important it is to use our time doing things that really matter. We are all so busy and it’s easy to place great importance on, and dedicate significant amounts of time to material, temporal things. We can forget about the real, live, living, breathing people around us who have hearts that need a little TLC.
I’m not sure what happened to Jake and where he is now. But every once in a while I think of that moment again and I stop what I am doing and I pray for him. I know that he may not remember me, but I remember him. Everytime God brings that memory to my heart, Jake is not alone because I remember him and I pray for him.
I recently heard a quote that I love!
“I am not afraid of failure. I’m afraid of succeeding at things that don’t really matter” William Carey
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*** “Jake’s” name has been changed to protect his privacy.