I’m not a fan of clingy. I’m sorry, okay?! I know it isn’t patient, graceful, or loving. I know it’s an area I should work on. I also know that my introvert heart is not all about people hanging on me.
Meet “B”. Because I’m talking about her story, we’re going to call her B – because it’s not my story to tell with her name attached.
I’ve known B for a grip, since I was teaching english my first few months in Haiti in 2013. I don’t even know where she came from, she just started hanging out in the classroom before class sometimes.
I’ve seen her in market here and there over the years or around Bercy as I walk to visit a family. When I see her, she runs and says my name. Sometimes she may ask for a little something. She follows me, hugs me, wants some attention. She’s…a little clingy. But I don’t see her except in passing.
So this spontaneous “Bible get together” starts. B is in it – and so excited about it! I’m a part of the study since it became official and had a second night – B saw that I was joining and was so excited. Sits beside me, talks to me, has big eyes and a smile as we get to do this hour together.
We wrap up the simple get together, with a half hour before the sun goes done. B uses this time to play jacks with goat bones, talk up a storm to me, go back to playing, then dancing, then call my name and come talk to me every few minutes. When I say talk, I mean touch and ask questions and play with my things and unbraid the hair she braided as we were talking about the Bible. B is officially being clingy. Maybe you had to be there to see it.
Anyways, Bible get together night two (aka my second night). B is here. Which is so fun! But I also saw her already today, she was around the house while I was doing work, and you know…that can feel clingy. But she’s here, and we’re glad she’s here! While I tell myself, to get over myself, in my head in the background.
With about 20 people around I forget about B, who is across from me today, as we start talking about the two verses we just read in John. We’re talking Jesus, him being both human and God, and then the reality of how he reacted to life versus how we want to react to life.
This all happened after working through the belief that some of the group had: “Well, Jesus was always happy.”
So, we brought it to real life. Bro, Jesus had some tough stuff in life. Crowds, a mom pregnant out of wedlock, all kinds of things. Things like people saying lies about him. How would/do YOU react when people say lies about you?
(Culturally, this was a hit close to home. Kids in the circle had been fighting just today, including with punches being thrown, over someone saying a lie about them.)
But how did Jesus react? With grace.
So we talked that side, that very hard side.
We talked about if we had been able to do this in real life, to give grace ourselves to someone in a tense situation. After some answers closer to the surface – good answers, but about kids being kids and forgiving over sibling fights…a deeper story was brought up.
During that story, TiLove was poking B and giggling, saying she should share too. B looked down with a grin and shyly said “no, no” in the background. Simon quieted all of this side conversation saying that stories are for people to share themselves, not to be forced by others and making people feel ashamed or cornered into talking. The giggles died down, discussion moved back to other people sharing stories.
We started to move on, and B decided to share her story. Word for word is not going to happen here, just some main points:
“Well, growing up my dad was with my mom and helped take care of me…”
“…He moved away, to France…”
“….now it’s hard to get a hold of him and he doesn’t help at all…”
“…my mom works so hard to get me an education, to get me food…”
“He says he does not have a child in Haiti.”
The whole time, she is stating facts. Less giggles, but still a half smile on her face. Legs kicking the wall she sits on, because she isn’t old enough yet for them to completely touch the ground. She ends the story that we thank her for sharing, and we talk about grace in that story that she wants to show.
Heart? Ouch. Hurting. Both for her, and for my ridiculously small-minded and near-sighted perspective on B being clingy. It was so easy today to see her and wave and smile and hug, but hope she would not need too much of me.
Who in the world am I to dose out my love and attention? To ask the question, “How little can I put forth into this opportunity to do life together”? To be as prideful as to think about how needy this girl is for ME, and forget that I am a needy human as well.
Here I am, placed in her life with the opportunity to love her. To talk about her story and a bigger picture. To share my own story, and to learn about God within it together.
And instead, I see that B is clingy.
God, in his deep riches of grace, opened my eyes and widened my perspective to a glimpse of his vast picture of us all tonight. “Stephanie, B wants more attention than others sometimes and she thrives when she is poured into. Her story will help you see why. ”
A daughter, told by her own father in the most impersonal way that he wants nothing to do with her. Not even by name, he says, “I have no children in Haiti.”
No, no, no. I will not stand for someone treating you like this.
But look at me. My own thoughts on you wanting just a little more of my time and attention. I myself called you clingy in my thoughts. Is that not treating you in a way that should not be stood for?
Oh, Lord, thank you for lavishing grace. For opening our eyes. For glimpses of your perspective when we are so self-focused that we need a glimpse of your much bigger view to get our senses knocked back into us.
I have the OPPORTUNITY to love B. Not just B, but everyone else around me. I am surrounded by stories, and even the ones that I know are such small snapshots.
Our Father, in His perfect knowledge and goodness, sees it all. And then He places us right where we are, in this exact time of August 2015. He places us in our families, peer circles, and co-workers. He creates a temporary home in a certain geographical location – just for us. And in that awesome, bigger-than-we-can-imagine perspective and His eternal, perfect plan – He places us.
How many B’s are we surrounded by? Lord, help us. And thank you for loving reminders of your big picture.
Side note: Brooke and I are both mind-blown and thrilled at this spontaneous Bible get together. Tonight was night three, and here are some of our favorite God things that we are talking about in squeals…
- The questions be asked. I can’t even. From the mouth of students – “How do you know the whole Bible? Is it possible to know the Bible 100%”, “How do you do what Jesus wants you to?”, “Who created God?”, “How is it possible to have faith?”
- We respond, but discussion also happens. And some of the deepest, truest thoughts and answers and responding questions – where are they coming from? TEENAGE GUYS AND TEENAGE MOMS. Teenage guys who are swag, without the right look for church. Teenage moms who may be accepted, but not enough to be sure they won’t be judged in church. These are the voices that would be silenced, IF they went to church. They’d be in the background. AND THEY ARE THE LOUDEST. And they have GOOD things to say! How JESUS is it, that these are the voices that are fired up so deep? The ones pushing the conversation and the Word?
- The people gathering…are not being invited. They are just coming. This is not a “CPR-3 Event”, this is not a “We had a dream to…” thing. It is boys and girls of all ages coming and plopping down at 5:40, ready for 6:00 time in John together.
- Even us doing this together is such God timing, because both of our personalities need pushed to keep doing this. It is AWESOME as we do it, but our tendency is to back down in the planning. And Simon, of all people, is doing this with us! Although we have dreams if these teenagers would be interested in leading their own things the way they are speaking up these past two nights…
So, pray with us as we “make the most of every opportunity”! (ephesians 5)