“And whatever you do, don’t make eye contact with Mark Smith,” Jane said. The excitement of my new job faded quickly as my co-worker at the library decided to fill me in on problem patrons.
“Why ever not?” I asked. Wasn’t having ‘good people skills’ in the job description? Did I even know how to NOT look people in the eye?
“Because he will start asking questions you can’t answer. If you don’t say what he wants to hear, he goes postal and we have to call the police. So DO NOT make eye contact,” Jane warned, quietly pointing to the panic button on the floor under the counter.
“What kind of questions?” I choked out. I did not know there was this kind of drama in a library.
“Well, you’ll see, here he comes now. Might as well get your feet wet.”
I turned and came face to face with a very handsome young man, with dark brown hair and big brown eyes.
“May I help you, sir?” I asked, helplessly making the forbidden eye contact.
“I’m going to heaven, right Miss? I’m going to heaven for sure, right?” he said.
“I…uh…well…” I stammered, absolutely stunned.
Jane quickly stood beside me. “Of course you are Mark, of course you are, yes. Do you need to use the phone to call your folks?”
“Yes ma’am,” he said softly. He walked away to a table carrying the mobile.
“Like I said, just tell him what he wants to hear. I mean it Alice, we don’t want any trouble,” Jane whispered.
“What is wrong with him?” I said, my eyes watering.
“He had a serious head injury in a car accident. He lives with his parents and they let him roam the town willy nilly. Everyone knows just to humor him.”
How could I do that? I couldn’t just humor someone about something as serious as his eternity. He may not be able to understand anyway, but there had to be another way.
Brandon Heath’s popular Christian song began playing in my head; “Give me your eyes for just one second, Give me your eyes so I can see, All the things that I keep missing, Give me your love for humanity…”
For weeks I avoided him when he came into the library. I would need the Lord’s eyes to help me look into Mark’s.
“Ok, Alice, the next time Mark comes in you will deal with him and if he asks any of those ridiculous questions, you will tell him what he wants to hear. We need to know we can leave you up here alone,” Jane said firmly.
I nodded. Maybe he wouldn’t come in that day and I’d have more time to think and pray about it. There was one thing for sure; I could not avoid eye contact. I’d no sooner had that thought than he walked in the door.
“I’m going to heaven, Miss, I’m surely going to heaven, right? I haven’t done anything wrong, Miss, so I’m going to heaven for sure, right?”
“Give me your eyes, Lord, help me,” I prayed.
I looked up and focused straight into Mark’s eyes. The pain they spoke to me gripped my heart and wrenched it into little pieces:
(“I’m so afraid. Why doesn’t anyone want to be my friend? Why does Daddy lock me out all day? I can’t remember yesterday. I’m going to heaven. I want to go to heaven so bad because I don’t understand anything. People look at me funny and no one wants to help me. I want to go to heaven. I have to go to heaven. They say it’s nice there. Please somebody tell me I’m going to heaven.”)
“Mark, Jesus loves you. Jesus loves you very much,” I said trembling.
He stared at me for a moment. I could tell that Jane was holding her breath and her foot was poised on the panic button.
“Yes, ma’am, Jesus loves me. Right, he loves me. That’s very good. I’m really glad,” he said smiling.
Jane was right in one thing; Mark has become a bit of a pest. But he doesn’t ask questions anymore, he simply declares, “Jesus loves me!” to Jane, to me, and to anyone who happens to pass him.
I have the words to that song in a frame on my desk now because my eyes can only see so far.
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