Psalm 34:8

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Girl with a Callused Heart




1.  made hard; hardened.
2.  insensitive; indifferent; unsympathetic:
They have a callous attitude toward the sufferings of others.
3.  having a callus; indurated, as parts of the skin exposed to friction.

A female student of mine was dragged into my classroom by two of her housemates yesterday morning. They shoved her over the threshold of my classroom, closed the door behind her, and held the door closed so she could not escape.

All of this happened as I sat at my desk, wondering, What is going on?

The night before, I had a conversation with this girl about her bad actions. She had chosen not to participate in the Bunco game after bible study – complaining that it was a boring game, and all she wanted to do was watch TV. She then said some choice words to her tia and some choice Spanish expletives under her breath. I tried to talk through those actions with her, adding that “Because I love you, I am sad to see you acting this way – it will not serve you well in life.”

Her response was to yell “No, you do not love me!” and go to her room, slamming the door behind her. I found out later that she spent the night ripping up every photo and letter that I have given her over the last 3 years. She threw them into the trash and gave away her bible, which was a Christmas gift from me.

And now, she is trapped inside of my classroom, being forced to speak to me by two of her friends.

It was juvenile and a bit awkward, yes. But it worked … sort of. 

Me: Why are you mad at me?

Girl: You know why I am mad at you.

Me: Please tell me in your own words so that I can apologize. 

Girl: No! You know why, and I'm never going to talk with you.

She opened the door and left, with her two friends shaking their heads and saying, “We tried, Bailey.”

Twenty minutes later, the girl returned to my classroom on her own. She sat in a desk and stared at me.

Me: Why are you mad at me?

Girl: You know why!

Me: I want to hear it from your own words. I know that last night I tried to talk with you about your bad behavior, but you got mad. Because I love you, it made me sad to see you doing things that aren't good for you.

Girl: Don't say that! I hate when people tell me they love me when I do something bad. You don't really mean it.

Me: I do mean it! It is because I care about you that I don't like when you do wrong things.

Girl: You don't care about me.

Me: I don't think you really believe that. If I didn't care about you, we wouldn't be having this conversation right now. And if I didn't care, I wouldn't spend every afternoon with you at your casita.

Girl: You don't come to the casita to see me. You come to see the other girls.

Me: I do go to see everyone, yes. But I have chosen to invest specifically into you, because you are special to me.

At that last comment, the corners of her mouth widened into a smile.

Girl: Why?

Me: Because you are a leader.

Girl: (with unbelief in her eye) I'm not a leader.

Me: Yes, you are. When you speak, people listen. When you are positive, so is everyone else, but when you are negative, the others follow.

We continued to speak for several minutes. Then she stopped and thought about what she would say next.

Girl: I think I've decided not to be your friend from this day forward.

I don't know what I expected to come out of her mouth, but that was not it!  I can't say that I was surprised, either. This girl has a history of hurting others with her words, then laughing at the after-effects, as if she herself isn't hurting inside. I chose my next words carefully.

Me: If that is your decision, it will make me sad. But I will never stop being your friend. I do love you, and I will always be here with open arms.

Girl: (confused at why she didn't get an angry reaction) You don't understand. I'm telling you that we won't be friends anymore. I won't talk to you ever again.

Me: Oh, I understand. But I will always be your friend. Even if you don't talk to me, I will still say, “Hello!” everyday. I'll still ask you how you are, even if you don't answer. And I will still be here with my arms open for a hug whenever you want one. I will be sad that you don't see me as your friend, but I will always be your friend. I love you.

Just then, a few students walked into my classroom to ask me a question. While I was speaking with them, she got up and walked out of my classroom.  I guess that is it, I thought. I guess I've lost her.  

The rest of the school day went by, and I didn't see her. The bell rang for the end of classes, and I continued to sit at my desk to finish some work.  But when I looked up, she was once again standing in my doorway. This time, she had a smile on her face.

Girl: I'm sorry.

I smiled, walked over to her, and put my arms around her. At first, she just stood there. Then she hugged me back. I looked down at her.

Me: I forgive you.

We hugged again.

Me: I'm so happy we are still friends!

We both laughed, and she asked me if I would come to her casita later.  I told her yes, and she left.

Over the years, this girl has trusted people who have let her down. She has loved family, friends, missionaries, and week-long volunteers who have left her with a broken promise of return.

As a result, her heart has become callused, indifferent, unfeeling. She has decided that instead of loving others and accepting love from others, she will reject anyone who tries to get close to her. She has decided not to believe that people love her, because they always fail in the end. And what is even more heartbreaking is that she refuses to believe – she can't believe – that there is a God in heaven who loves her and is always fighting for her, always standing with open arms waiting for her to run to him.

Pray for the girl with a callused heart. Bit by bit, I am watching those hard, shielding layers around her begin to soften. I do believe that one day, she will accept that God loves her and wants a relationship with her. And when that day comes, I have told her to let me know.  I'll need to replace the bible she gave away.