Saturday, November 5, 2011

Redemption Through Hats and Gloves

A few years ago I learned the meaning of the word redemption. Take a couple of seconds to click on the link and breathe in the meaning of this powerful word. It's definition—rich, it's implications for our lives—profound.

After reflecting upon the significance of this word, I am led to this question: Is it really possible to experience redemption? Even in those small areas of our lives, which may seem insignificant, but are in fact, a source of personal loss and deep pain?

As a child, I felt as though I experienced loss and pain in both big and small ways. I'm sure if you thought about it, without too much trouble, you also could recall a memory of an incident that wounded your spirit in younger years. One memory I have is getting ready for recess in elementary school during the winter. It wasn't uncommon for me to be asked to stay in a few minutes from recess to finish some seat work and then head out into the hallway alone to bundle up.

I found this process of getting dressed to be perplexing:

  • Shoes have to come off first, but boots have to be put on last.
  • A sleeve is a great place to store hats and mittens, but they have to be temporarily replaced in order to put on a jacket.
  • Wearing your mittens on your hands while sticking your arm through your coat sleeve would seem to make the most sense, but it's actually a detrimental move because covering your fingers prematurely makes zipping your jacket nearly impossible!

Navigating situations that require problem-solving is challenging for any young elementary student, but because I also have poor fine-motor skills and hand-eye coordination, I not only found getting dressed to be challenging, I found it overwhelming.

It took me so long to get dressed that by the time I reached the threshold of the recess door, I would hear the whistle blow signaling that recess was over. I missed my free-time in it's entirety. I wish I could say that this happened just once, but.....

It happened repeatedly and I never told anyone.

As I grew up, I learned to cope. I found outwear that had fewer zippers and ties. My hand-eye coordination improved somewhat as I matured, and eventually I completed assignments with efficiency, allowing me to get outside on time, but the sting of what had happened to me became a painful memory that I carried inside me through the years.

Can a pain like this one be healed?

I can only imagine dialoguing with a counselor as an adult. I imagine she might listen to my story and then say:

  • “I'm sorry this happened to you.” (So am I. While kind, your sympathies are not helping.)
  • “Have you discovered the wonders of Velcro?” (As a matter of fact I have! I happen to own adult Velcro boots. They make me feel and look prematurely old for my age.)
  • I hope you've since learned how to ask for help.” (Sometimes, but the truth is that I am fiercely independent.)

Can pain like this be redeemed?
A few years ago, I would have said no. The pain I experienced as a child getting ready for recess will always linger in my heart. There is no possible way that what happened to me could ever be repaired or restored.

Today, I hold a different perspective.

Today I work at an elementary school where I watch as the young students around me endure some of the same struggles to prepare for recess as I did. I found myself experiencing pain day after day as I watched first graders come in from recess and not know where to place their hats and mittens. I grew stressed as the bell rang at 2:15. I would observe students attempting to get dressed quickly and pack their bags in time to catch the bus. Memories of similar struggles flooded my mind.

You can imagine my shock and delight when one day, our Dean of Students approached me and said, “Jenny, will you show the students on the news how to hang up their coat and place their hats and mittens into their sleeves? Some of our students are struggling.”

I put my heart and soul into my demonstration and was asked for an encore presentation the following day. Eventually a video was created demonstrating this process and is shown annually. When a student stops me in the hall as they head out the door to recess, asking me to help them zip their coat or tuck in their gloves, I smile and thank God that He has redeemed even this little piece of my life.

How has God redeemed your life? How have you seen Him work in big, small, or unexpected ways?

Enjoy this video by Gungor called Beautiful Things. God does want to redeem our lives and bring beauty and creativity where all we see is rubble. 

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