Practicing What We are Preaching

May 17, 2011

The evening wasn’t going quite as I had planned. A mother didn’t show up to clean after Kids Club and didn’t call to let us know otherwise. Emily left Kids Club early to attend to an urgent meeting, and I was left in charge. As if that wasn’t enough, a few parents neglected to pick up their students. I had everything perfectly timed and planned, and surprises weren’t part of that plan. In fact, they were the enemy of my plan. I should have known not to schedule everything so tightly because “something” ALWAYS happens. The plan was perfect. Kids Club would end. Everyone would go home. I would go to my house with a volunteer and some students to practice their skit for an upcoming performance. I would stay to get them started on their practice, then I would sneak away for 30 minutes to introduce a new mentor to her student. I would return to my house. The volunteer could go home and I would finish the skit practice. Yes, it was perfect!

However, after Kids Club in addition to no one showing up to clean, I was stuck with two kids to walk home and it was throwing off the whole plan. It didn’t help that they weren’t exactly behaving that day either. Needless to say, I lost my patience and made it clear to the two children that I was not happy with them or the situation. After I dropped them off, the mentor I was supposed to introduce forgot and rescheduled for 1 1/2 hours later, and I went and did the skit practice with the students at my house.

After dropping off the students from skit practice, I had a nagging feeling that I should stop at the boys’ houses and apologize. Perhaps it was conviction. Perhaps it was the Holy Spirit. In hindsight, I could see that I took my disappointment out on the wrong people and that was not right.  In my frustration with the boys, I also became short. When I stopped at the first house David refused to come out of his room. I asked for permission to go back. He was a sweaty mess curled up in a ball underneath a blanket crying. His mother had been in Guatemala for the past two weeks visiting ill relatives and he was missing her. However, what had really gotten him at this moment was that his Father who was supposed to spend time with him, neglected to pick up his phone calls. He explained to me that he was hurt. I told him that I was sorry he was having a difficult night and I asked if I could pray for him that he might be able to reach his dad that evening, and then he wanted to pray too. When he finally peeped his damp head out from under the covers, I apologized for being impatient and told him that he was incredibly special and loved by God. I was sorry that I treated him with a lack of patience. As soon as our conversation ended, his uncle walked in with a telephone in hand stating that David’s father was on the line.

As much as we all hate making mistakes and even more so, admitting it, there is a lesson that can be learned in the way we deal with those errors. We can ignore it, live in denial or confront the error of our ways and deal with the consequences. No matter how we choose to deal with it, we are setting an example for those who come after us. Whether we like it or not, they are watching our every move and we can turn those mistakes into opportunities to show them that none of us is perfect. What really matters is turning back to pick up the pieces and by God’s grace doing our best to reconcile and make right what went wrong.

In Kids Club we are teaching our students “The 5 A’s” of conflict resolution. Admit you did something wrong and state it. Accept the consequences of your actions.  Apologize to the person you hurt. Ask for forgiveness from the person/people you hurt and from God. Alter your actions making your best effort not to repeat the same error in the future. I am thankful for the opportunity to be the one who had to humble myself and admit the error of my ways. Sometimes kids need to have the table turned and see adults ask for forgiveness for the consequences of their actions. By doing so we are able to point to our ultimate example of Him who was sinless and still chose to humble Himself. “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”  Philippians 2:8

We are a community of people “learning together to love our neighbors as ourselves” in a Latino neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia.

As a faith-based Christian non-profit with a small staff and over 100 volunteers, we serve alongside more than 100 families and their children (1st-12th grades) each week through our community programs.

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Our relational network of volunteers and donors reflects a diverse group of individuals from all over the Washington, D.C. metro area. As a non-profit, we rely on the community for assisting program directors on-site, being mentors, supplying the needs of our food pantry, and everything in between. Each member of our Casa community holds a unique gift, whether time, talent or treasure.