My hand used to hurt from his fist bumps. I would have to silently brace myself with planted feet and white knuckles each time he would arrive. Like clockwork, he’d walk through the doors, and I’d stick out my balled up hand . . . ready. . . waiting . . . but vowing not to show any signs of the wincing I knew I’d be doing on the inside.
He’d wind up and go in for the kill every time. I’m certain that over the course of our first six months together, he was waiting for me to crumble. Waiting for me to stop giving him my fist. Waiting for me to decide it wasn’t worth it.
You see, Donovan is just like any other kid. I mean, sure, there are things that set him apart from his peers. For instance, at age eleven, he knows how to hot wire a car. And one time, he got flagged down for walking into a school with his hunting knives dangling from his belt. But he’s like every other kid out there who simply craves a person who is not going to be freaked out by the quirks that make them who they are. They’re all looking for someone who isn’t going to throw in the towel.
So as Donovan’s small group leader, rather than look at him like a deer in headlights when he shares true stories about various pranks he’s played on his brother (pranks that involve supplies which I’m certain may be illegal), I chalk it up to his resourcefulness and creativity.
And when he’s too cool to participate in things the other kids are doing, we put him in charge of running the computer for large group. It’s amazing how clicking the next slide gives him significance—without him even realizing it. I continue feeding him with praise about how well he does that particular job, and I remind him that we want him to continue using his gifts to serve.
And when his mom comes to pick him up, I tell her how much I love being her son’s leader. She looks at me with surprise in her eyes. After all, mothers know their kids. She’s well aware of the fact that Donovan can be a bit much. She needs the affirmation just as much as her son does that I believe he’s extraordinary.
And he is. He’s extraordinary. And I’m thankful for the opportunity to see that in him. More importantly, maybe I’ve helped him see that in himself. Maybe I’ve reassured him again and again that he’s worth it—fist bumps and all.
(By the way, somewhere along the line, those fist bumps gradually shifted to hugs. Sometimes the best “Thank Yous” do not come in the form of words.)
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Written by Ashley Litton
Liberty Live Church
Global Kidville Groups Specialist