Thursday, December 16, 2010

What's so special about YOU?

You know...We are special, right?  

I mean, after all, my mom tells me I'm special.  My dad tells me I'm special.  My husband tells me I'm special.  My daughter, Adelyne, tells me one million times a day that I'm special.  She has even said that if I am the only present Santa brings to her this Christmas season, she is okay with that.

In fact, on another occasion, she has said, "I want Mommy to do it because Mommy is special." 
My husband inquired, "If Mommy is special, what am I?"
She answered, "Handsome."

At least he left happy with her response.

But, let's even think about this a bit more...

What is it that makes me special?  What is it that makes you special?

We figure out what makes us special.  We take tests that tell us how we are special.  We apply for jobs and talk about our “assets” that are so uniquely special the interviewer should toss all other resumes and immediately call us for work! 

Yes.  Special, special, special!

I studied Special Education in college.  When I became a teacher and it was time for the awards ceremony at the end of the year, I realized that none of my students would ever receive a special award from the school based on the school’s criteria.  After all, the school demanded great grades, superb attendance, active participation in school functions/sports/clubs/so forth, wonderful behavior.  As the list went on and on and on I realized that not a single student of mine would meet any of that criteria.


Because---they were crack babies or FAS kids.  They suffered from brain damage or constant epileptic seizures.  They had such severe learning disabilities that they couldn’t even read or spell rat/cat/bat/fat in the 7th grade.  Some smelled so badly, it was required they took showers upon entering school premises in the nurse’s office for their sakes.  And, to be honest, the behavior of many of them was more gangster than Dangerous Minds.

Yet, to me, each and every one was so extremely and uniquely special.  Don’t get me wrong.  Many afternoons when the school bell dismissed the swarm of teenagers, I sat behind my desk crying---amazed that I made it through another foul language-laced day filled with fights and security escorting students from my room.  There were even times I wondered if the student was going to or planning on harming me. 

And, still, each and every student remained special.  Somehow, in some way, I was able to look beyond what they had become to what they could potentially have in store.  In a sense, I felt as if I was the only one at times to think this way.

So, when the school ceremony came, I asked that I award my students, too.  The administration didn’t even blink.  Maybe they were growing accustomed to my varying ways.  And on that candle-filled night, I (with my other S.E. teacher) awarded 2 of our students with awards that we deemed worthy of them.

At the end of the evening, one mom came up to me crying.  Her daughter was often the source of frustration to so many and even more frequently forgotten or dismissed due to her very severe medical disability.  This award, however, showed her mom that someone cared.  Someone, besides her, cared about her daughter and also knew that her daughter could one day be or accomplish greatness in her own life.

The other parent, a single dad of two teenage daughters, just was…He just was.  Silent.  Strong.  Proud.  His daughter’s learning struggles were intense.  Yet someone recognized that she was a star and had potential and could become someone someday.  His lack of words spoke enough that no words were actually needed.

This…what I just wrote…this is how we at Bread of Life feel about each and every person we work with through our foundation.

It’s not even that we feel it.  It’s that we know it.  If we look beyond what they have become and instead look at what they can become, then their futures are so bright.  In fact, so bright that we all better wear shades!

CampaignTHEM never gives up.  We have an expression at Bread of Life, “Rescue Even One!”  The people we work with truly are special-it’s just no one ever took the time to tell them, to discover it or to honor them for their lives.

Now, isn’t that sad?  I think so, too.

What makes you special???  Perhaps it’s your willingness to help someone else realize they are special, too.

CampaignTHEM…Touching Hearts; Encouraging Many.


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