“Look on victims of abuse as if what happened to them had happened to you.” Hebrews 13:1-4 – The Message
By John Gaudet-Aubichon
My life as a boy was filled with violence, blood and hiding places. My siblings and I were shuffled back and forth between our violent-alcoholic parents and a terribly abusive orphanage.
I carried the abuse inside me like a brick. I felt like I had so many bad secrets that I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone, and I was so scared to let them slip that I stopped talking.
One day, Mrs. Shannon, my teacher, ask me to stay after school. I was terrified as I wondered “what had I done wrong now?” At the end of the day, the classroom emptied and it was just the two of us. She smiled and said I wasn’t in any trouble, she just needed some help cleaning up. While we worked, she talked to me about everything. Somehow, she seemed to know that I was afraid to talk, so she talked for both of us. She told me what it was like on her family farm and of all the animals. She talked about school and how she became a teacher.
She kept me after school every day, and I looked forward to these sessions with this kind woman. Once, she gave me a sparkly eraser. I kept it in my pocket for weeks, fingering it with a smile on my face.
She encouraged me to read, and she showed me that not all adults are monsters. She told me I could be someone. If I tried, I could do whatever I wanted. She gave me hope.
Years late, my sister called and said she found some things in the attic. I looked in the boxes of old toys and I found the sparkly eraser. I started to cry for this woman and the gift of kindness she had given me as a child.
I changed my life that day. I stopped drinking. Now, I’m married and have an eight-year-old daughter. I owe it to a lady who instinctively knew I needed a friend. Not just a teacher, a lady who gave me my greatest gifts as a child—kindness, hope and a sparkly eraser.
Like Mrs. Shannon, let’s show a little kindness or give a little hope, a sparkly eraser, to someone today who is suffering.
From: Chicken Soup for the Caregivers’ Soul, by Canfield, Mark Hansen and LeAnn Thieman (August 2012).
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Photo credit: World Bank Photo Collection