“It’s yours really it is!”
“No I don’t believe you, I think you are wrong!” Those words still echo in my mind years later when I think of this story that happened in 1994. I remember the date because I have it written on the bottom of the figurine and who gave it to me.
In the years that I was working at Boylston Home, I had lots of adventures with the girls. All of them were wisdom developing experiences.
One spring afternoon Jada came bouncing in the door from school with a beautiful little Precious Moments figurine in her hands. She pranced up to me with a delighted look on her face and proceeded to hand me this little figure with joy. I said “thank you dear, but where did you get this?” My heart was already sinking because Jada was known for having slippery fingers and coming home with things that did not belong to her.
“It’s for you Miss Ruth! I got it for you!” She gushed happily, pushing the figurine into my hands.
I asked her again, “Where did you get this?”
“I got it at school, Miss Ruth. It’s for you! I got it for you!” She was not to be discouraged.
“Are you sure are you telling me the truth or Did you steal this from someone?” I was sure I was going to have to take her to someone again and make her give it back..
“No, no! I got it for you honestly I did.” She was starting to look a little crestfallen at my continued questioning.
“Jada, I’m sorry I can’t believe you. You’ve taken things from people before that weren’t yours and I’m afraid you might have stolen this too. I have to call your teacher and she going to tell me where you really got this from so you need to tell me now.”
She barely paused but firmly reassured me, “Yes, Miss Ruth, yes ! I know you like precious moments, so I got if for you honest!”
I walked away from her with a heavy heart knowing that she had probably stolen it wondering “how am I going to deal with this? I’ll try to give her the benefit of the doubt and I will call her teacher tomorrow.”
The next morning I called the teacher.
“Hello, Miss Smith? I’m sorry, I hate to bother you, but you know how we have this history of Jada taking things that don’t belong to her? Well, last night she came home with a Precious Moments figurine. It’s really cute and I have no idea where she got it from can you help me out?”
“Yes Ruth, I would love to tell you what happened with that. Jada knows we have a prize box and a month-and-a-half ago I brought in that figurine and put some high points on it because it has value. Jada took one look at it and she said, “I know Miss Ruth loves Precious Moments, I’m going to earn that figurine for her!” She spent the entire month earning the points, by good behavior, by working hard, by doing everything that she was supposed to do and getting along with her classmates so she could “buy” that from the prize box for you. That figurine is really yours! I have been very proud of her effort and you can be as well!”
I wanted to crawl under the table where I was sitting. Not only had I misjudged this young girl. I had completely missed how deep her love was for me that she would sacrifice her earnings for an entire month, not tell me about it and not pick something for herself, but pick something to give to me! My mind immediately goes to a couple of different verses when I think about this situation. “No man knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person ” (I Corinthians 2:11). and 1 Corinthians 13 where it says “love keeps no record of past wrongs” and, “thinks no evil.”
When Jada came home from school that day I sat down with her and asked her forgiveness for thinking evil of her and wrapped her up in a hug thanking her for her incredible young sacrifice for me! Needless to say, that figurine has always had a prominent place everywhere I have lived and worked to remind me never ever to misjudge a student/child until I knew all the facts! Many times since then I’ve had other situations where, because I took the time to stop and ask all the questions, I was able to save those students the grief of being misjudged by an adult. In one case because I asked all the questions first and was willing to ask forgiveness of a student it saved another student’s life. But that’s a story for another chapter.