There are people who through the course of our lives make a great impact. Some become our best friends, some are our family, some an unlikely circle of support. Some are teachers or coaches or speakers who shared insights of wisdom that shanghaid our way of thinking.
And some are “the least of these”
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
For me, these are the faces in my heart. I love all the people I mentioned above, but there is a face that shows up when my heart is blesses or burdened. Anytime my classes talk about an unreached demographic or someone asks me about what I want to do this summer (which I still have not heard about :-/) there is a specific little face I see. I can’t say for sure why his is the face I see. Maybe it’s because I see him and then think of all the little faces his age back home and their stories are so different. Maybe it’s because the 4 or 5 days I saw him he wore the same thing everyday. Maybe it’s because after that week I knew I wanted to make a difference but am still searching for how. Maybe it is because he was the least of these and I witnessed how a little love changed him.
His name is Anthony.
He was in the third grade when I met him and although he was tall there was no extra meat on his bones. His Adult Medium shirt didn’t help with this visual reminder that resources were limited in his house.
He went to school in the inner city of Chicago and his dark little face was never clean. His shirt, originally white, was stretched out around the neck from games of basketball and doubling as a napkin. It always hung towards his shoulder and got dirtier as the week went on. He wore it everyday. His teacher said it was not uncommon for her students to wear the same clothes for multiple days and sometimes a week. Anthony was one of those kids. He had a temper. He didn’t listen well. He struggled to read kindergarten level books. And he did NOT like me. At least not the first day, and why would he?
Here I was a white girl coming into his school like I knew what was going on; like I could help him. He had already learned that people leave and he knew I was no different. He would not speak to me the first day I was there. Anthony was supposed to come read with me in the hallway one day and he didn’t want to but once he did we sat and read and we did the same thing the rest of the week. He hated coming out in the hallway and looking weak but he was making progress.
By the end of the week he loved me and hugged me hard before I left. I think part of me will always feel like I helped harden him. The teacher explained to the class numerous times that I was just visiting and that my home was far away and I would have to go home but it was still hard to leave them knowing I was just another person who earned their trust and then walked away.
I don’t know where he is today. Hopefully he has found a new shirt, more than one and has escaped the future he and so many others in his school were headed for. He told me his daddy was a pimp (at the time I didn’t even know what that was). Anthony’s scared, hard little face remains in my memory and is etched in my heart. Why? I don’t know. But I do know that it is a reminder to do what I can for who I can.
Who is the face in your heart and why?