"After I finished passing out donuts to all of the kids in my homeroom and to Mrs. Collett, I was so excited about passing them out to other teachers, that I was in a hurry. So I went around and gave them all away. Everyone loved them. They really are the best donuts.
"Then I got back to my desk, all that was there was a napkin and no donut. I forgot to give myself a donut!"
I laughed, an all-out belly laugh. "Are you for real? You didn't get one of your own birthday donuts?"
She blushed and shook her head. "But Mrs. Collett shared some of her donut with me. I got half of one."
"Really? You forgot to give yourself a donut?" I was in complete disbelief.
Steph laughed. "I know, Mom. I forgot."
It's been seven years that we have battled with Stephanie about not having to always be first. Stephanie survived in life before she came home to our forever family by getting things first. She fought for first and biggest. Always.
Sometimes it's important to let others be first. There have been battles and fights and tears as we've helped her to learn being first isn't the most important.
At the same time, we've prayed that we wouldn't crush her independent spirit. Her strong-will has the potential to be beautiful and we didn't want simple compliance. We wanted to empower her to care about others and to realize life, when lived best, isn't about what you can get for yourself.
When we were buying the donuts for her to take to school, she insisted on her favorite kind. She insisted on the big donuts. She insisted on having extras to give away.
Forgetting herself because she was so excited to give donuts away is a miracle. I don't use this word lightly. Really, a miracle occurred in her homeroom class today.
Stephanie forgot about herself because of her acts of kindness to others.
I wasn't sure this would ever happen, that Steph would think about others before herself.
Jay was the catalyst for Stephanie's healing. He has helped her to see the power of putting others before yourself. He has helped her to accept the truth that when you think of others first, your life gets better
Stephanie is remarkable, not to mention spunky and carefree and hilarious.
When I think about her journey of learning to care for others, I think we get a glimpse of what Jesus intended when he said:
If any of you want to be my follower, you must stop thinking about yourself and what you want. You must be willing to carry the cross that is given to you for following me. Any of you who try to save the life you have will lose it. But you who give up your life for me will find true life. It is worth nothing for you to have the whole world if you yourself are lost. (Matthew 16:24-26)This is not an easy command. It goes against our human nature. We want easy, comfortable, first, and best.
But this isn't what is most important to Jesus. To follow Jesus, we must deny ourselves and serve others. Next time I see a big glazed donut, I'm going to remember Steph and how sweet it is to persevere on a journey to learn to serve rather than to take.