I always looked forward to lunch every Thursday every week last semester. Why? Because of a little girl named Joy.
At the beginning of the year, I began a new journey with Kids Hope USA at Adams Elementary in Arlington. In high school, I never would have thought about mentoring a child, because I had low self-esteem and did not really know my identity in Christ. That also was before working with kids became my passion.
I signed up to mentor a child because I wanted to love on a child and make a difference in my community. Who knew that those five months would be the hardest semester of my college career? And yet, seeing Joy was always the highlight of my week. God always used that one hour a week to bless me and draw me back to his love. And I was not the only one teaching, loving and caring. Every time Joy saw me at the door, her face brightened up, and she hurried out of her seat so we could start our hour together. Joy’s love opened my heart when I felt like closing it.
When I was scared to love, God opened my heart to love on Joy. I had opportunities to just talk, give advice, color, write, draw, read, walk, play, run, pretend and even help with her homework. I am not a natural planner, but God is forming me into one. Before our hour together, I planned what we would do, but often my plans would change depending on how Joy was doing that day. I got to apply what I learned in my education class, and I found my confidence in teaching.
Joy opened her heart
Joy opened her heart the more I showed myself faithful every week, and she shared more and more about her life. In the beginning, she said she might move next year to a different school. We prayed that somehow she wouldn’t move or that God would send her someone else to help her through school.
At the end of the year, her mom told me that they are not moving—just so I could continue as Joy’s mentor! Joy’s teacher even told me she could see a major change in Joy’s confidence in class and with her friends after meeting with me. When I thought I wasn’t making any difference, God reminds me of the impact that simply loving a child can do.
Mentoring Joy and staying in Arlington this summer has taught me to use my gifts of loving people for God close to home. It reminded me that relationships are hard work, and relationships require community and endurance. We must be unwilling to quit when life gets hard and overwhelming. It’s the struggle that makes us closer with people and God.
I’m excited to continue mentoring Joy in the fall and going into the semester strong because I know I have a godly community around me and a loving Father willing to strengthen me. And I do not have to be afraid to love and let people in.
If I want someone to love me, then I must first love them. God began showing me the definition of unconditional love through a child and through my family this summer. Unconditional love is not a natural spiritual gift for everyone, but God will work it into us if we let him.
Molly Rae Adams, a student at Dallas Baptist University and member of Fielder Church in Arlington, served with Kids Hope USA in Arlington.