I painted this painting for someone incredibly special. She is an exceptional person because she uses God’s tools. God’s tools are patience, charity, even long suffering, humility, and grace. Some of you reading this, may already know about the painting and the story behind it, but bear with me, there is a story I am tying to it.
This painting was to symbolize a miraculous experience that her mother had when she was 13. Her mother had measles encephalitis and she died. She was gone for nearly 10 minutes. During that 10 minutes, she saw God’s hand come done just like this, and hold her in his hand. When it was time for her to come back, He carefully placed her back in her body. When she woke up, she told the doctors who had been working on her, what she had seen and felt. This image has stayed with me since she shared the experience, and it has moved me many times, to remember that we are always in God’s hand when we want to be.
I was prompted to write this post because of an experience my oldest son had in school. A few weeks ago, I picked my son Aidan up from middle school. His usually calm self was not what I greeted as he entered the car. The moment we pulled away from the curb, he leaned over his lap and onto his backpack. I looked over and realized he was crying. It startled me a bit and I asked him what was wrong. He told me about a very upsetting experience he’d had in school that day.
I’m going to give these young’ns fictitious names. Aidan had been upset on and off by a girl in his culinary class. This girl, (let’s call her Nat), had been his partner for weeks. They were randomly paired in class and it had been a rough pairing. Nat regularly cursed, called Aidan names, told him he was stupid and and idiot and quite a few other colorful words, I don’t care to repeat. I had told him he needed to approach this situation like he had and earlier situation in school. He needed to treat her with conscious fervent charity. Never reciprocate in nastiness.
This was not the first time he has faced this type situation in school. Two years earlier, he had a kid who treated him similarly. Let’s call him Clay. Clay had tormented Aidan most of his 5th grade year. He called him fat and generally made him miserable. Aidan and I had the conversation about fervent charity then. I had told him about a situation I’d faced in 8th and 9th grade.
We moved from an itty bitty town in Missouri, to an enormous suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio, when I was in 8th grade. I had 1 month of brand new miserable school in 8th grade, and then a summer of no friends and a start to 9th grade. For reasons unbeknownst to me, a group of girls decided I was the perfect target of their torment. I was called profanities in class, in the hallway, and every time I came across the girls in this group. They were mean as all get out. They finally cornered me in the bathroom after months of this, and pushed me up against the wall and told me, “they were gonna kill me.” I had never reciprocated to them verbally. I was scared and humiliated, but tried to never engage them. On this fateful day, they made the mistake of saying this to me, when our English teacher was in one of the bath room stalls. She flew out of that stall like a bat outta you know where, and grabbed those girls by the back of their shirts. This tiny woman of fury, yelled to me to follow and she hauled us into the principal’s office. I was first worried, that I was in trouble too. My fear slowly dissolved when she told me to go into the principal’s office first and tell him what was going on. I did, and to my relief, I found out that some of my teachers had noticed what had been going on with the name calling in class, and had talked about it, but none of them could pinpoint the culprits until now. My english teacher had already been concerned, and thankfully had encountered it. These girls parents’ were called in, and they were warned that if it happened even once more, they would be suspended. Relief hardly encompasses my feelings. They did still stare me down in the hallways, but over time it just dissipated to ignoring me. I was totally cool with that. Because of the size of our school, I didn’t have class with any of these girls until my senior year. I was partnered with one of them in chemistry class. I was surprised she treated me well. In fact, we became friends. After months of curiosity; I asked her, “Why did you guys hate me so much when I moved here?” She stared at me stunned and surprised. She said “That was YOU?!” I said yes. She said, “I’m so sorry, we were just stupid. I don’t know why we did that.” I am still friends with this girl today. I consider it a win for God.
I told Aidan this story and he seemed more relaxed after. I told him, “Aidan, if you reciprocate the hate, it will feed it like a fire and throw propane on it. If you respond in kindness and love, it may take a long time, but it will dissolve the hate. People tend to wonder why they would torment someone who loves them. You have to truly love them though. People can smell it when it’s not genuine. You have to pray for love and forgiveness for this person and grant grace to them.” Aidan had miraculously become comfortable acquaintances with “Clay” over time, and now over the past 2 years, he even waved to Aidan and said hello.
Aidan went to school for weeks still feeling beat down. He had a few other friends he hangs out with, and that softened the blows that Nat was shelling out in culinary class, but this day in the car with him crying into his backpack was different. He told me that Clay had been sitting next to him and 2 of Aidan’s good friends in class. Clay was trying to tell Aidan dirty jokes. Aidan had told him, ” Stop, I don’t want to hear that stuff, it’s gross.” Clay, being annoyed with Aidan’s lack of amusement; decided to switch up his game. Clay, told Aidan’s good friend Heather, that “Aidan said,”He wants to roll around under the sheets with you.” This was not only completely made up, but humiliated Aidan. To Aidan’s horror, Heather had recoiled in disgust and looked at Aidan like he’d actually said it. Aidan had tried to tell her that Clay made it up, but she wouldn’t hear him out. She had only known Aidan for this first few months of school, and didn’t know him well enough to reason that away. This went on for 2 weeks. Aidan and I prayed about it, he was worried about losing Heather as a friend. I told him, you can’t do any more. Now we pray, you be kind and patient, and we wait on God for help.
After these 2 weeks, I was picking Aidan up once again. He got in the car this time, with a huge smile on his face. The first thing he said was, “Stunning twist of event’s mom!” He went on to tell me that miraculously, Aidan’s culinary partner (of torture ) Nat, was friends with Heather. Aidan didn’t know this until now. Apparently Heather told Nat what Clay had said Aidan said that day in class. Nat told Heather, “Really?! That doesn’t sound like Aidan at all!” Heather had come to Aidan at lunch and sat down by him. She told Aidan, “I’m sorry about what happened in class and not hearing you out. After I talked to Nat, I realized that comment didn’t even seem like something you would say. I believe you now.”
SO let’s recap. Culinary partner of torment, stands up for Aidan based on how he has treated her in spite of her abrasive treatment of him. He didn’t know that weeks later, this girl would salvage his friendship with another friend. Now that’s some cool God works! If your gonna be a tool…just make sure you are one of God’s.
satan has a toolbox and all it can help you build is a fortress of misery. The only thing that is launched from this fortress of misery, is more misery. God has a toolbox and it can dissolve the misery that satan is continually trying to launch at you. I really like picturing satan getting whacked in the spiritual noggin with God’s wrench in cases like this. We are powerless to fight satan’s attack, without God’s tools. Our tools only work when we strap on that Armor of God. Helmet of Salvation, Breastplate of Righteousness, Shield of Faith, Belt of Truth, Sword of the Spirit, and Feet shod with the Gospel of Peace. But don’t forget the cloak of humility. We are all fighting something. Remember it’s not each other. We are fighting an enemy who wants to destroy all of us. If you use the enemy satan’s tools…you join his awful army of misery. Don’t . Fight for your soul and fight for the souls of your brothers and sisters on earth. We are all God’s children. Have each others backs when you see them lost and desperate and using the wrong tools. Shine God’s light and show them God’s tools, so that they may free their souls also.