Tory (not her real name) was a girl I worked with when I led youth groups back in my early ministry. At thirteen, she was spirited and very sure of herself, so when she came to youth group and did not say anything and sat by herself, I knew something was wrong.
Tory was small for her age and though most of her friends had begun puberty, she had not. It concerned her parents so they brought her to the endocrinologist, and they found out that she had a disorder called Tuners Syndrome; this is where instead of an XX or XY chromosome, she only possessed one X chromosome. Granted, for a girl or boy, those early teen years are a time of self-discovery and understanding, yet there is a great desire to be normal and need to fit in. For Tory, her initial diagnosis, in her mind, meant this would never happen.
After a few minutes of her sulking, I sat down next to her and inquired as to what was going on. She told me the whole story and ended with “I’m not a real girl, nobody is going to accept me, and no one is going to like me!” Before I could say anything she gave a very loud cry. At that point, two other girls came by. They scrunched in close to the other side from me and to my surprise, she told them the whole story all over again! The girls, without hesitation, gave her a big hug and said “We love you for who you are, what’s a ‘real’ Girl anyway!” With that, I tried not to chuckle, but it just fell out. Soon we were all laughing and by the end of the night, Tory was back to her spunky self.
Earlier that year, I taught a lesson to the kids about grace, and I pulled out a ladder, and placed it just below a hole to the attic, just shy of where I could crawl in the attic by myself. I walked the top of the ladder and attempted to go in but obviously could not. I had a friend up there and on cue, he reached down and helped me in. As I crawled back down I said to the kids, “Grace is like that, there is only so far that we can go by ourselves, but eventually we need God to help us, because our own tools can only go so far, just like the ladder.”
One of the kids responded: “but you always say that we need to be gracious to one another, so if we don’t have the tools for ourselves, how can we show grace?”
I came back and said “That is just it; we may not have the tools for ourselves, but we always have the tools to help someone else out. When we recognize our own needs, we can really be present for others for their needs.”
Interestingly, Tory got the treatment, and though she faced some difficult things, pretty quickly she began to grow and catch up to the others her age. When I left that church, she slipped me a card letting me know that she was going to just give up on life that night, but she saw that there was something more, and she also saw that now she could talk out of that grace she received and share it with others. Think about how our whole lives might be different if we were to share grace with one another and give credit to God, when God gives us Grace.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen