Today, as the children filed into the lunchroom with their trays and lunch boxes and took their seats in boy-girl order on the little bench attached to the table, I noticed one girl crying hysterically. I mean hysterically. Hyperventilating. Shaking. Snot pouring from the nose. Face as red as the ketchup she had on her tray to dip her corn dog in. It was bad, and neither of the teachers had made their way to the tables yet. They were still helping the kindergartners get their forks and napkins and milk. So I walked over to ask her if she was okay, to which she responded, "I don't like corn dogs..." Fair enough. I guess some people don't care for corn dogs, but I couldn't understand why a food item had induced such a harsh reaction. I was relieved to see her teacher making her way over to handle the situation. She sat and talked to her for a minute and carefully pulled the breading off of her corn dog for her. She was still beside herself, and even though her back was to me, I could see she was still struggling to catch her little breath in between sobs.
I inquired Madalyn about the little girl. "Is she having a bad day?"
"Oh, she had to move her name."
Ahhhhh... had to move her name. Got called down in the class. When lunch was over, the teacher clued me in that she had written on her table in the classroom and had to move her name on the board for the very first time in the school year. And she was destroyed because of it. Devastated. I wondered what went on in her little mind. Did she think she'd get in trouble at home? Did you shudder within from embarrassment from being called down in class in front of her friends? Did she cave inside at the notion that her image was less than perfect? I was that girl, the one who was so destroyed by a single mistake. The girl who thought the world would end if anyone around me knew I was not quite perfect.
In many ways, I've been that little girl at the lunch table squawking about corn dogs when it really something quite more serious at stake. When I knew I had blown it. When I knew that my mistake, that my sin, was bigger than I ever wanted it to be or dreamed it could be. When I thought that because of my mistakes I was somehow less lovable, less deserving of grace. When I thought that my mistakes made me a disappointment. What I am glad to walk in today is the understanding that even on the days when I have to move my name, God loves me no less, He extends even more grace, and he sees those mistakes as a chance for Him to shine through me.
So, yeah... I've had to move my name a lot on the conduct board. I've made a mistake or two or 43,000. I've been the girl, red-faced, hyperventilating, in the midst of an ugly cry about corn dogs. But I am glad to say that the ugly perfectionist in me is dying down and upward springs the realist that says, "Honey, we all move our names every now and then. But God always moves it back..."
I leaned over and told that precious little girl that I hoped her day got better. She had settled down from crying, but at the sound of my words, she cranked it back up again. I felt bad for her, but I said a little prayer for her on my way home. God bless her. God bless us all.