My girls have lived through terrifying childhoods. I never cease to be shocked when I start listening- untangling the mess of the past of yet another teenager who has, only by God’s grace, made her way into my home. I hear horror stories of abuse, betrayal, complete neglect… of children who lived years in circumstances that not one person should have to face even for one day ever.
And as I listen, I have heard a common story woven throughout. Somewhere along the way, most of my girls had a teacher – one teacher for one year, who stabbed a hole in the darkness of their lives to let light shine through. One teacher who cared, who stopped to listen, who stayed after class to talk. One teacher who looked past the defiant behavior and saw a world of abuse. One teacher who saw with compassionate eyes the bruised little soul and tried to make things better. One teacher who told her she could do it, who made her feel important, who believed her life had purpose. I have watched eyes soften as she tells of this one teacher, one ordinary lady or man, who gave her a reason to hope. And most of the stories end with this: “I wish so badly that I could find my teacher, to tell her thank you. I wish she could see me now.”
So I’m writing this for all my teacher friends, on behalf of all the difficult, hurting, defiant kids you’ve tried to reach. She wants to tell you Thank You.
She wants you to know that you were the first person to ever SEE her. You showed her love for the first time. You understood her pain, even though she would never talk about it. You helped her catch up instead of humiliating her. You hugged her even though she smelled really bad. You didn’t punish her when she fell asleep in class day after day. You gave her boundaries and showed her tough love when you had to. But you never gave up on her.
Maybe you only had her in class for a few months or a year. Maybe she got pulled out of school and you never saw her again. Maybe you’ve wondered what ever happened to her, or if she’s ok. She wants you to know that she’s grateful. And she wishes you could see her now. She wishes you could know that she’s graduated. That she has dreams for her future. That she loves to help others. She wishes you could know that you made a difference. Your heart, your love and your compassion made all the difference in the world to her. Thank you.