Karon (pronounced ka-RON) was a little girl from Germany. Her family was in the U.S. while her dad was working on a joint German/US project.
Karon walked into my classroom, speaking no English, and she stole my heart. I don’t know if it was the extra attention she needed, the eye-to-eye contact we made while trying to understand each other, or the silly sign language we used to communicate, but like I said, she stole my heart.
Matter of fact, she stole it big time!
Her big brown eyes stayed bright with excitement with every little thing we did. She stayed pretty close to my side, always wanting to be my helper.
After her first few weeks with us, I heard her talking to the other children in the class. She was saying, “Boys and girrrrrrrrrrrls, do you know whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?”
She sounded just like me.
She had learned a little English, and a whole lot of Southern accent.
One of the teachers at the preschool was from Scotland. She informed me, in her beautiful Scottish accent, that when Karon went back to Germany, no one would have any idea where she had been and what language she was speaking!
My heart would melt when Karon would come up to me and say, “Mrs. Gallo-vay! Mrs. Gallo-vay!”
After a few months of pre-school, it was time for Karon and her family to return to Germany.
I planned a special going away party for her. We made Karon a giant card out of poster board and decorated it with pictures of her classmates. I also added little notes that told why each child thought Karon was special, and what they would miss about her. And, of course, we had to add lots and lots of glitter!
The way to the heart of a four-year-old girl is paved with glitter!
We had special snacks for the party and Karon’s mother came to take pictures of Karon with her friends. When it was time for Karon and her mother to leave, her mother hugged me and said something I will never forget.
She said, “Thank you for loving my child.”
As Karon and her mother walked down the hall and out of sight, I ran into the small bathroom in my classroom and closed the door. I put my hands in my face and sobbed.
At first, I didn’t know where the tears were coming from. I was used to telling children good-bye. That’s just part of teaching. But as I continued to cry, I realized that the words from Karon’s mother had touched, not just the heart of a teacher, but the heart of another mother. I had given her mother something greater than I had given Karon.
I had given Karon’s mother the gift of seeing her child.
When she thanked me for loving her child, she knew that I had seen Karon as she saw her.
I found myself saying similar words to someone Sunday morning.
The time had come to tell a very special person good-bye, and the only words I could find were, “Thank you for loving my child. Thank you for loving Ethan."
I said these words to Aaron. Aaron, a member of the worship team, was one of the first people we met when we began attending our church. It was five years ago when he came up to us, introduced himself, and reached out his hand for Ethan to shake. Aaron was not fazed by the effort and the time it took for Ethan to reach out and touch his hand.
Since that first day years ago, Aaron has never seen Ethan without giving him a handshake or a hug. Sometimes he would ask Ethan how he was doing. Other times he would just tell Ethan that he loved him.
Ethan, as well as Jim and I, were as confident that Aaron would stop and speak to him every time as we were confident that the sun would set every evening and come up every morning.
Aaron saw Ethan.
He saw Ethan like Jim and I see him.
He saw Ethan like Jesus sees Ethan.
Like Jesus sees all of us.
Ethan and Aaron never socialized together. They don’t know a lot about each other. They’ve never sat down together and talked about sports or politics. They’ve never told each other funny jokes or stories.
But they love each other.
That’s what happens when a person takes the time and makes the effort to see someone.
The good-bye between Ethan and Aaron didn’t come with a lot of fanfare.
As they both fought back tears, they said they loved each other, and Aaron promised to continue to pray for Ethan.
There weren’t many dry eyes from those that watched the simple good-bye take place.
I don’t believe in karma. I don’t believe that Aaron saw my child because I had seen another mother’s child.
But, I do believe in a God that lives inside of His people. A God that longs desperately to love us through each other.
How thankful I am that when God asked Aaron if he would love Ethan for Him, and he said “Yes."
"First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first."