(From Bad Beginnings to Happy Endings, by Ed Young, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publ., 1994), pp. 3-5.)
Sometimes people need our help. They may be having a hard time in life. They may have even been Christians and have backslidden into sin. They may have committed terrible sins against God and men, maybe even you personally. But we should reach out to them because Jesus would reach out to them. Our goal as Christians should never be to push people away but to do everything in our power to bring them to the foot of the cross. Sometimes one kind word from a Christian brother or sister can make all the difference in the world.
Three Letters from Teddy
Teddy's letter came today and now that I've read it, I will place it in my cedar chest with the other things that are important to my life.
"I wanted you to be the first to know."
I smiled as I read the words he had written and my heart welled with a pride that I had no right to feel.
I have not seen Teddy Stallard since he was a student in my fifth grade class fifteen years ago. It was early in my career, and I had only been teaching for two years.
From the first day he stepped into my classroom, I disliked Teddy. Teachers (although everyone knows differently) are not supposed to have favorites in a class, but most especially are they not to show dislike for a child, any child. Nevertheless, every year there are one or two children that one cannot help but be attached to, for teachers are human, and it is human nature to like bright, pretty, intelligent people, whether they are ten years old or twenty-five. And sometimes, not too often, fortunately, there will be one or two students to whom the teacher just can't seem to relate.
I had thought myself quite capable of handling my personal feelings along that line until Teddy walked into my life. There wasn't a child I particularly liked that year, but Teddy was most assuredly the one I disliked. He was dirty. Not just occasionally, but all the time. His hair hung low over his ears, and he actually had to hold it out of his eyes as he wrote papers in class. (And this was before it was fashionable to do so!) Too, he had a bad smell about him which I could never identify. His physical faults were many, and his intellegence left a lot to be desired, also. By the end of the first week I knew he was hopelessly behind the others. Not only was he behind; he was just plain slow!
Any teacher will tell you that it's more of a pleasure to teach a bright child. But any good teacher can provide work to the bright child, keeping him challenged and learning, while she puts her major effort on the slower ones. Any teacher can do this. Most teachers do it, but I didn't, not that year. In fact, I concentrated on my best students and let the others follow along as best they could. Ashamed as I am to admit it, I took pleasure in using my red pen; and each time I came to Teddy's paper, the cross marks (and there were many) were always a little larger and a little redder than necessary.
"Poor work!" I would write over and over again.
The boy quickly became the class "goat," the outcast: the unlovable and the unloved. He knew I didn't like him, but he didn't. know why. Nor did I know--then or now--why I felt such a dislike for him. All I know is that he was a little boy no one cared about, and I made no effort on his behalf.