Real Love

I mentor a little boy every Friday. He’s almost 7 and is behind his classmates academically, behaviorly, and emotionally. The first half of this year was trying (to say the least). We were getting to know each other and I’m sure he wasn’t convinced that I’d come back each week. Now that we have established a relationship, I’m trying to learn how to read his different moods in order to figure our how to best best utilize our time together. This week he was particulary distracted. His teacher sent a math test for me to help him complete and we barely got 7 problems done in 45 minutes. His mind was everywhere except focused on doing that test. He wanted to take his shoes off, said he needed a band aid, and needed to sharpen his pencil. Then needed to go to the bathroom but was scared to go in because of the “ghosts”. I assured him I’d be right outside, then he was too scared to go back in and flush the toilet. This went on and on and I couldn’t help but smirk. I gave up on the test and we just hung out. As we walked back to his class, we got outside and the cold air blasted us. He left his jacket in class, so I put my arm around him and pulled him close. We were a “walking hug” down most of the hallway.

In that instant, I remembered the book I’ve been reading, Kisses From Katie. In the book, Katie moves to Uganda right out of high school. She falls in love with the children there and becomes somewhat of a mother to them all. Children with such intense diseases as HIV surround her daily. She stops at a moment’s notice and digs “jiggers” out of the children’s feet. She hugs and loves on kids who have probably never had a bath. She also takes these dirty children and gives them baths. She feeds them, pays for their hospital stays, raises funds to make sure that they are sponsored for school tuition. She fosters children with the intent of adopting them. This list goes on and on.

As I hugged this little boy, I wondered if I had what it takes to love like Katie. Yes, I want to make a difference in this little boy’s life, but just the smell of his feet when he took off his shoes in the library earlier made me pull away. What if he was one of those Ugandan children? What if he had never bathed? Had HIV? Needed me to dig jiggers out of his feet?

I realized just how selfish I’ve been with my love. When I was in the classroom, due to rules and regulations, I had pretty much decided not to hug the kids unless they hugged me first. All I could see was lawsuits and complaints and I wanted to keep my job. I know that I’ve changed since then and that my heart is not quite as hard as I had let it get, but even still, my expressions of love have been jaded.

I’d like to say that I would do all of those things that Katie does on a daily basis, but I’m not 100% positive. I’d like to say that I love wholeheartedly, but I don’t think that is true either. What I do know is that I’ve got a long way to go. Selfless love is only available from the source: Jesus. If I’m going to learn, I’ve got to spend more time at His feet. And the more I love on my little friend, the better I’ll get at it, too.


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