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If I Only Get One

April 1, 2011

I work with adolescents and, for the first year of my professional career, I worked specifically with high school students.  Halfway through the first year of my job, one of the girls I had become very close with went through an incredibly challenging time.  It is not important to know the specifics of Sarah’s circumstance, but she was struggling with something that required her to seek help beyond anything my colleagues and I could provide her.  What was incredibly hard and incredibly wonderful about Sarah’s experience was that she and I remained close throughout that time.  For whatever reason she allowed me in, and I was given the privilege of being one of her support systems.

Sarah worked incredibly hard for months to overcome the obstacle she was facing.  It is still an uphill battle that she deals with everyday, but her life is so different than it was three years ago.  However, one thing I can say that is not different is the closeness that Sarah and I continue to share.  She comes to see me every week, volunteers to spend time with some of the younger adolescents I now work with, and processes everything from boyfriends to grades to college applications.  It still amazes me that I play a small part in her story.

I received an email from Sarah today where she wrote to me about some really great news she just received.  The specifics are again, unimportant, but I paused in amazement that she wanted, that she even thought, of sharing this news with me.  I am older.  I am less hip.  I am not in her peer group.  And yet, here is this young girl who has allowed me to impact her life, and she mine.

Before I started working with kids I always fantasized about the kind of impact I would make in their lives.  I clung to every story I ever heard of adults who helped kids turn their lives around.  The teacher who finally reaches that student who everyone else cast aside.  The guidance counselor who helps a teenager through an eating disorder.  The swim coach who becomes the first voice of confidence in a child’s ear.  I wanted nothing more in my entire life than to be one of those people, which is perhaps what led me into my work.  But the quick and dirty reality is that I honestly don’t dramatically impact that many kids.  I can’t.  The majority of kids I come into contact with will come in and out of my life with very little to remember me by.  The majority have other support systems in place, other role models, other friends.  Most kids will look back on their time with me through a smoke-screen mental image.  But sometimes, sometimes there is one.  Sometimes there are Sarahs.  Sometimes there is just one out of the hundreds who I have the honor of impacting.  And that gift was not lost on me this morning.

If I only get one life to impact, I am so grateful it is Sarah.  If I only get to know and support her in a meaningful way, then consider me fulfilled.  If there is never another teenager who will remember my name, so be it.  I cried at my computer this morning in humbled tears that just one of these young people let me in.  Just one has allowed me to stand by her.  Just one is who God has given to me.  If I only get one, consider my cup overflowing.  Consider me blessed.  Consider my time here unwasted.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. April 1, 2011 10:03 pm

    Beautiful, Lauren. You are among those people to me, too – in your words and your example and the smile you always bring to my face. Thank you for sharing. Perhaps we are due for another Panera date soon?

    Hilary

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