He smiles, his blonde hair shimmering in the sun. I push him
higher and higher as he laughs, with laughter bubbling forth: his eyes sparkle. He cannot contain his
joy…and neither can I, because I chime in, laughing with him. Egging him on and
provoking him, tickling him. Making him laugh harder…harder…harder. He loves the swing.
Then he points his stubby little finger. And when he points
his finger, that can only mean one thing: he wants something. And he will do
anything to get that something. To have his way. He will pull your hair, tug on
your shirt, dig his nails into your skin. He folds his legs and drops to the
ground, deadweight. And he will stay there. Until you take him to the place
that he wants to go, as he grabs onto your arms with his hands. His wet,
slobbery, this-ain’t-no-ordinary-thumb-sucker spit, drenched hands. It’s all
fun and games until he touches you…until he touches me with his slimy, wet hands.
But that’s what I signed up for. Isn’t it? And it’s a given,
working with Special Needs kids. There will be pee, there will be poop, there
will be biting and there will be drool.
Some days I can’t take it. My back hurts from carrying the
burden of so many kids, those that can’t lift themselves, and those that can –
but just refuse to. Because they’re spoiled, and they’re cute…and it’s our job
to take care of them. And so, we pick them up anyway. Sometimes I wonder what
it would be like to dress myself up…nicely, very nicely. To do my hair and
makeup—to wear that cute dress…to wear the cute shoes. To have a job where I
can just look good. Be myself, express myself. Some days, I wonder…when my shift
will be over. And I mean over, over. When my last day at the job will be. I
wonder what it will be like to clock out and never go back—to not have to wash
my hands one hundred and fifty times in one hour. Scrubbing the drool off of
me, off of my clothes. Out of my hair.
But then. I think of the times when I am pushing him on the
swing…higher and higher. And he is smiling harder and harder. Laughing, filling
himself with joy. His blonde hair dancing in the wind…as he looks up to me with
that crooked smile. That crooked smile that melts my heart. Who knows when his next smile will be…does
he laugh like this at home?
The least of these. Jesus talks about them in the Gospel;
the book of Matthew, chapter 25, verses 31-46. He talks about them all
through-out the New Testament. God’s heart is for them, and bent towards them,
through-out the whole context of the Bible. And even today, in the here and
He loves the beggar, the broken, the slave, the leper, the
sick, the mentally retarded, the physically seized, the invalid, the Samaritan,
the poor, the prisoner…the least of these. And He loves them with an
unconditional love. Not a love that says, “You can smile at me and it will be
okay. I will push you in a swing and we will keep it at that. Just don’t touch
me…I squirm at the feel of your drool sliding across my hand. And the smell of
it. The nauseating smell of it. I love you, but just don’t touch me.”
I’m sorry. But this is the God-honest thought process that I
partake in at my job.
How many times will I
choose my own luxury over the least of these? My vain efforts mean nothing
if I am in it for the wrong reasons. In it to be seen by the right people. In
it, partially. Giving only my heart, but not my mind…or my body. In it to give
money to, but not to hug and hold the impoverished, unshowered hungry girl with
lice in her hair.
Jesus talks about them—the least of these—in the Gospel; the
book of Matthew, chapter 25, verses 31-46.
“Truly I tell
you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of
mine, you did for me.”
I wonder how many times a week Jesus extends his hand towards me,
reaching out from the body of a beggar…longing, hoping…desiring that I would
see through the rugged face and slashed clothing and look to the heart of the
person, and see them for who they truly are: a Child of the Most High King. A
beloved, in the eyes of Jesus.
This isn’t just about me. This is about you. This is about us and this
is about the condition of our hearts. We must fix our hearts, we must fix our
eyes on Jesus, we must agree to be transformed, we must care. We gotta. And not
just partially. No. We need to care, with everything that we are and everything
that we’ve got.
Boy, you can tug on
my shirt all you want. You can hold my hands all that you want. You can pull on
my arms all that you want, all that you need. And when you touch me with your
drool, I won’t flinch, I won’t think twice of it. Because I love you just the
way you are. I won’t deny you Jesus…I won’t deny you, least of these…