08 Apr CONNECTION BY MICHELLE WALLACE
every morning Mr. Chris begins class by complimenting each of his students. These are exceptional children with various special needs.
Chris explains, “As a special education teacher, I have students with a variety of conditions but they all share one common element: they are pure. They represent love and everything that is right in this world. But yet, it seemed as if 99% of society could not see this. One parent even told me that their greatest fear was passing away and leaving their child homeless, wandering the streets and being ignored as if they were a ‘light post.’”
So Chris began a video blog called, “Special Books by Special Kids.”
“These children deserve to be heard, loved and appreciated,” says Chris. “The world needs to understand that in many ways, the children have it right. We need to learn from them… We are all different but we are all in this together.”
One of the biggest things you might learn from Chris is the importance of connection. Creating bridges to connect children to the standards of society might look different in Chris’s classroom because each child is so unique. But at the heart of every video you’ll see this theme of connection. Children connect to their true identity through affirmation, children connect to learning through personal pathways, children connect to one another through exploration and connect to others through understanding.
Recently one of Chris’s students began incessantly asking questions to which he already knew the answers. And Chris wasn’t sure what to do. He was baffled until he started contemplating human nature. What is the point of conversation? The answer was obvious: we want to feel connected, to be a part of community. Chris noted that every day he talks to his co-workers about sports when in reality he doesn’t care that much about sports. Chris said, “If I attempted to talk to them about some of the things I’m interested in, quantum physics, 60s folk music, beat generationwriters, I might not feel so accepted.” Chris talks about sports because he knows it will give him that sense of community and belonging.
Now, I’d like to make a very bold statement. I believe it’s possible for any struggles of this world to be overcome through connection. Every man, woman and child, needs a sense of belonging, community and love. So many times people build walls because they weren’t understood. Someone like Chris didn’t take the time to look beyond to see their ultimate longing for connection. No one told them who they are and championed the gift God put on the inside of them.
There’s an interesting dynamic within the church today where people are leaving in search of something. They may feel the connection is not there with the pastor when in reality the issue concerns deeper areas of connection. When we are not connected to our truest self as a son and daughter, deeply loved by a Father who has our highest good in mind, we feel lonely, something like an orphan. And when we are not divinely connected to a family who calls forth the gold in us, we wander without a sense of purpose.
God places us within certain communities to be a unique expression of His love. If you haven’t discovered that then you need to pray for connection. First to the heart of the Father so you can understand you are accepted, cherished and wildly loved. Next, pray to be connected to a group of people going after the same things. Pray you’ll find your tribe! God designed us for community, we are wired for connection. Without it we grow weary, we’re bored and we really do die on the vine. With it, we’re like the kids in Mr. Chris’s class. We thrive and soar to heights no one thought was possible. God will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! It’s all about connecting.
I love Mr. Chris because he was able to see beyond the stereotypes of society, social norms and labels. He sees his kids so much like Jesus sees you—a beautiful masterpiece, divinely created. Jesus left the perfection of heaven, sacrificed everything for you to be accepted in the beloved. Chris made huge sacrifices.
Chris writes, “I stopped putting money into my savings account. I put $600 a month into Face-book advertising. I spent from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. each day teaching and from 4 to 10 p.m. creating videos and blogging. I bet it all on this project. Four months into the project I tearfully asked my girlfriend if she believed it would ever make an impact, I was ready to quit. She convinced me to keep going for a full year then make that decision.”
Thankfully he didn’t give up because one video has now gone viral, fulfilling Chris’s desire to spread love, empathy and acceptance. “Yes acceptance, awareness is not good enough,” Chris said. And when you watch him with his kids, it all becomes clear: acceptance is easy.
Connect with Michelle at HANDOFTHEKING.com