I believe that the best gifts are those given by children. I used to volunteer at a day camp for children with disabilities, and through this time, I obtained a strong liking towards a little girl nicknamed JB. JB was the sweetest child, but a single word never left her lips, and her mind was often in a world that I could not enter. One exquisite Wednesday morning, the entire group hopped on a bus to go to the zoo. Once we were there, the change that overtook JB in those few short hours was unimaginable. Never in my entire life had I seen someone so captivated by a bunch of gigantic, foul animals. She glowed when she saw the monkeys, and she pointed out into the distance, pleading for me to take a look at that beautiful zebra. At that moment, she wasn’t distancing herself from the world, but rather she was lavishing in its glory. She gave me an unforgettable memory that day and the greatest gift of all, her beaming and giggling smile.
Last summer I was a counselor at a Christian camp for early middle school aged children. One week, there was a girl by the name of Cathy in my cabin, and her father explained to me that she was having a lot of trouble at home. Her parents were divorced, her father was remarrying, and he was preparing to serve Cathy’s birth mother with a restraining order from seeing her only daughter. I was distressed about this situation and how I would be able to comfort her if she needed me. The week went on without any breakdowns, yet I kept thinking how lost and detached she must be feeling eternally. On the last day of camp, Cathy awkwardly handed me a piece of paper and asked me to open it after she was gone. I obeyed. A few hours later, when I was camper-free, I picked up that piece of paper and unfolded it with extreme curiosity. On it she had drawn a sloppy looking cross with a brown magic marker, and in the center of it was written “God Loves You.” At that instant I realized how wrong I was in assuming that she was fragile like a sheet of glass. She knew what was important in life and from that, she had great strength. This simple gift is something that my mind refers back to quite often. I couldn’t have received anything more meaningful that summer, not even a fancy piece of jewelry or a handful of cash.
Through my experiences with children, I have seen what true happiness is. They give of themselves fully, not really comprehending the good that they evoke into the world. Children have shown me what it means to give a gift of love to another, even if it isn’t in a physical, solid form.
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