There he was, sitting in the corner, bright yellow headphones hugging tightly to the sides of his head. His tongue poked out from behind his lips and his eyes narrowed as he focuses in on his clipboard that wears a bright white piece of paper. Slowly, methodically, he focuses on each stroke of his Crayola black marker- which he definitely snuck out of the coloring room.
After the transition of 2nd graders, soon to be 3rd graders, moved into our room a few months ago, I’ve loved getting to know the new faces, names and a whole mixed bag of personalities that paint the walls of our room. And maybe you’ve met the young boy that I’ve described above. Every week he comes into our classroom and harmlessly writes number after number, and his favorite number? 366,663. I told him mine was the number four. “That’s 366,629 numbers away from mine.” he replied matter a factly. Uh, that’s right, it sure is. Needless to say this boy is a little different than the others.
Over the course of my time coming on staff I’ve had a few one- on- one small group sessions with the boy and his brilliance continues to astound me. However I know that although he is smart, small groups with other kids are far outside of his comfort zone. That’s why when last week’s small group was a board game meant to be played by at least four people, I wasn’t sure how he would feel about adding some other kids into the group.
I met him in the corner with my small group bin and asked him, as I always do, if he wanted to play the game with the rest of the third grade boys. “No. I want to play with you,” he replied without blinking an eye, almost annoyed with the idea of playing with a group. Off in the distance I noticed three other kids, two boys and a girl, both being in service for the second time. They found their way to Peter, our door key leader and were discussing the lesson in their own small group.
In this moment I could have done a couple of things. Asked the kids to go join their normally assigned small groups, or recognize that Peter had a handle on them and I could have let them be. But I had another idea. I excused myself for a moment and headed over to the three kids. When I got to them the little girl defensively blurted out “We’re having our own small group, please don’t make us split up.” I said “I have another idea.” I told the kids about the little boy in the corner who wasn’t very good with groups but we need three more players and I think it would be great if they came and tried to play with us.
They were all very reluctant, until one agreed and the other two followed. At first the single boy looked at me a little frustrated and made the comment that he no longer wanted to play but rather was going to draw his numbers. The other three were all a little awkward but we kicked off the game. Over the course of the small group the three kids learned how to speak differently, play gently, and be kind to someone a little different than them. The transformation was amazing. My little small group of misfits played through the entire game and the little boy even ended up playing with the others without flipping the game board after every roll! And even though he did squeal with excitement a little too loud a few times, the others handled it so lovingly.
That moment has stuck with me all week as I’ve worshipped and thanked God for such a beautiful moment, but then I began to realize something. At one point we have all been classified as a “misfit”. We are all born with a dead spirit, separated from Christ and ultimately a misfit. But God…in all his Grace and Mercy continued to pursue human history and sent us a savior to save us from our sin and flesh. The best news of all, He changed our identity from misfit to sons and daughters. I pray that as we continue to come along side of the kids in our rooms that they too will find a new identity in Christ and someday know that they can belong to the God of the Universe, if they choose to.
Friends, I’m so grateful for the opportunity to serve along side you and love on these kids and give parents some time to pursue their own spiritual journey. I can’t wait to see you again soon! Love You All.