I could hear her giggle down the school corridor as she headed for my classroom. A nervous shiver went down my spine. Why did I have to be stuck with this impossible student? I was new at teaching. Why couldn't one of the more experienced teachers have this un-teachable child?
Diane had been in first grade for three years. She still could not read nor write or even talk so anyone could understand her. But giggle she could, and that she did aplenty. Of all my thirty-two first grade students, Diane was the only child I could not love and protect as I would my own. One of nine children, Diane was neither loved nor wanted at home. I felt guilty that I carried the same attitude toward her.
Now Diane stood at my desk stomping snow off her feet and giggling again. I looked at her long, stringy, dirty hair, little rotten teeth, and dull, dark eyes. Tall and skinny, she towered over the other first graders. Poor thing, I thought. She has nothing going for her. "Dear God," I silently prayed, "Life is cruel enough without all of these added pressures. Is there anything I can do to help her?"
"Sew some gold buttons on her coat," I heard the Lord speak to me.
It was then for the first time I noticed her coat hung loose and open in the front. Every button was gone. I looked at her feet - no boots, only soaking wet socks and battered shoes. Then I noticed her chapped red hands. She was rubbing them, trying to get them warm. "Where are your boots and mittens?" I asked. She giggled and made gestures indicating that she had none.
I immediately called the health office and made arrangements to get her boots and mittens and another change of socks and shoes. After school that afternoon, instead of heading for home, I went directly to the local fabric store. There I found five beautiful bright gold buttons.
The next day while the children were in gym class, I pulled Diane's coat from the cloak room and sewed on the buttons. Then I hung the coat where I had found it and dismissed the whole event from my mind. That afternoon as the children were donning their winter wraps to go home, I heard a squeal of delight coming from the cloak room.
Then as plain as could be, we heard Diane shout, "Look, teacher, look! Someone put pretty gold buttons on my coat!" I burst into tears and grabbed Diane up in my arms. "Oh Diane, you can talk!" I cried. Quickly the other children gathered around us taking turns hugging Diane and crying along with me, "Diane, oh Diane, you can talk!" There was such love flowing in that classroom that nobody wanted to leave for home. God was knitting us all together like one big family! Diane had found her proper place in our hearts, never to feel like a misfit again!
Soon Diane's giggles ceased. Her dull eyes became bright, and by the end of the school year she was an avid reader. Her speech became clear and all her skills became normal or above average. Her final reading test score was a shock to all of us, for out of the five first grade classes, Diane scored the highest! By the time Diane entered high school, she had developed into a pretty young lady and was also very gifted in writing. Several awards were presented to her for the poems she had written!
Many years have passed since my teaching days, but the lesson involved with the gold buttons has grown richer and richer in my life. Many times I find myself in a situation I cannot handle and once again I hear those words, "Sew another gold button," which is indeed the Lord telling me, "Give out an act of love, where love is needed, but not found."
Love is love in any language - it knows no barriers. It can climb any wall, it can heal any wound, and it is the acid test of how much we love God! For if we truly love God, we have love towards another!
Have you sewed any gold buttons today?
By Eleanor Grace Armstrong