She could be a difficult child to like. Strong willed and bossy on a good day and downright all-around disagreeable on a bad one, she made few friends among her peers. I was taught one of my greatest lessons on one of Mildred's worst days.
It was hot and humid on this particular worst day and apparently the discomfort of the weather contributed to a vicious cycle of feeling, quickly escalating into a mob mentality among the small fry. Circling their victim and intent on revenge, they taunted her in a united voice: "Stu-pid! Stu-pid! Stu-pid!" they chanted, placing emphasis on the last syllable. Mildred cowered, sobbing into her hands, but the group grew rapidly to include every child on the playground. They showed no mercy. "Stoooo-pid!"
However, before unbelieving staff could intervene, a diminutive five-year-old stepped forward from the midst of this cranky gathering, took Mildred gently by the hand and led her away from the mob and into the protection of the adult circle.
It is never an easy thing to stand against the crowd. My dictionary defines service as an act of assistance or benefit to another, and Christ commands us to love and serve one another. Years have passed since this incident but time never dims the bright lesson in courage and service administered by a small child who was willing to stand against a menacing crowd to benefit another. She didn't stop to question whether Mildred "deserved" such grace or not. She simply stepped forward and served.
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