An Offering in Cursive: A True Story

He’s a student I’ll always remember. It’s a story I’ll never forget.
It began on the first day of school, after the unpacking of markers, glue sticks, and tissue boxes, and after I had asked my students to write me a letter about themselves.
I stood in the back of the classroom watching them work, wondering what kind of year was ahead of me. It’s so hard to tell on the first day…

One boy finished quickly and stood to turn in his paper. On his way, he nervously approached me. Cupping his hand at the side of his mouth, he motioned for me to bend near. Whispering…
I wrote in cursive to please you.
His smile was shy but his eyes flashed me a confident, You’re welcome, as he walked back to his desk.
I stifled a giggle.
Then, my heart melted…
…not because of his penmanship, but of his desire to please me.
We settled into the school year, and I learned more about that student. By mid-September, I knew that he was a true mathematician, a remarkable writer, and an advanced reader. Oh, and he did have beautiful cursive.
So many gifts.
By October, however, it was clear that he struggled socially. He was a rock star in the classroom, but on the playground he was shy, awkward, and invisible.
I wanted so much more for him.
So for this particular student, I kept academic goals in front of him to keep him progressing, but he and I worked mostly where he was weak. He tore through the academics, but the social climb was very challenging for him.
At the first buds of spring, Cursive Boy caught my eye during recess. It was as if he was saying, Watch this… I followed his stiff stride as he walked across the playground toward a group who had just started a game of foursquare.
Will he do it this time? I wondered. His long overdue social assignment was to join a group game on the playground. I prayed and held my breath. As he neared the group, I saw his mouth move.
Can I play? I guessed.
No one responded and my stomach dropped. I could see the tension in his body. He started to turn away in retreat when he caught my gaze again. I smiled, nodded, and sent encouraging thoughts his way via the spring breeze. He slumped his shoulders and stared at his sneakers for what seemed like an eternity.  Then, a miracle:
I’d like to play. Can I play with you guys?  His voice was just loud enough for me to hear over the wind.
Someone, some angel disguised as a fourth-grader, must have given him a positive response, because he got in line and waited his turn to enter the square. Shoulders back and chest out, his eyes searched for mine. I gave him a discreet thumbs up and grin, but my heart leapt while I watched him play with his peers.
Though not all of his social issues disappeared with that game, it was definitely a turning point, and the rest of his year was a lot more fun.
And on that day, one teacher cried happy tears behind sunglasses until the whistle blew.
Why did this story move me so much? Why so much emotion?
I heard with my heart, So it is with you. And I understood…

The story’s elements reached far beyond that school year:
A teacher and a student.
Initial offerings of talents and strengths. 
A relationship.
A deep need revealed.
A new offering of a weak heart, desperate and malleable.
My heart leapt that day because of the boy. He trusted me with his social life and victory was ours.
My heart was moved deeply and joyful tears flowed because it’s my story, too. The teacher is the student.
But there are some contrasts:
The Perfect Teacher‘s heart melted for her before offerings of any kind were made.
The Perfect Teacher knew her weakness even before her name was written on the roll.
The Perfect Teacher bent near to whisper first.
The Perfect Teacher’s offering of His own life empowered the student to offer hers.
The Perfect Teacher loves perfectly.
The Perfect Teacher uses imperfect, earthly dramas to reveal Himself.
The student reviews the story, her story, over and over, hoping it’s good enough, but then she notices…
…the perfect handwriting is not her own.
Her smile is confident, but her eyes flash a shy, Thank you, to her Teacher as she walks back to her desk to cry happy tears, unhidden, until the final bell rings.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

One thought on “An Offering in Cursive: A True Story

  1. dawnlizjones October 22, 2015 / 7:14 pm

    This quote resonated with me: “The Perfect Teacher uses imperfect, earthly dramas to reveal Himself.” Wow. The things I’m going through are vehicles that He is wanting to show Himself through. Terrific and encouraging story. Retweeted!


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