Bursting through my classroom door, the lively six-year-old planted herself on spindly legs in front of my desk. A narrow, below-the-knee length cotton shift hung loosely from her shoulders, accentuating her long, slender form. After a quick glance around the room her fists landed where her hips would be if she had any. “Why don’t you have any windows in this room?” she asked, accusingly. “You definitely need windows in here!”
Surprised by her precocity, I stifled a giggle. “You must be Rose. I’ve been looking forward to meeting you. And yes, the room needs windows, but it didn’t come with any. Tell me, how did you get such a beautiful name?”
“I was named for my great-grandmother. Her name is Rose with a big R, but I’m rose with a little r. Everyone says she was a character, whatever that means. She always knew what she wanted and went for it. Anyways, she’s dead, but I want to be just like her.” I smiled at the purposefulness expressed in each word and gesture.
My interview with rose continued, but it soon became clear that the one being examined was me. She dominated the conversation as her mother stood nearby, alternately affirming and disallowing rose’s assertions with a shake or nod of her head. I knew from our earlier phone conversation that rose had just finished an unsuccessful year of kindergarten. Although advanced in some areas, she had difficulty recognizing letters and words; therefore she had not been promoted to first grade.
Teaching rose proved both challenging and intriguing. I was charmed by her creative, dramatic approach to life, and impressed by her strength and determination. Unfortunately, rose had more than her share of conflicts because she liked to take charge, and of course, she always knew what she wanted and went for it! After finishing kindergarten—successfully this time—she continued on to first grade, often breezing into my classroom after school to claim a hug or to inform me of her latest scheme.
Changes occurred during rose’s second grade year. At recess she loitered near the teacher on duty, her shoulders drooping uncharacteristically. I was monitoring recess one morning when she blurted out, “Nobody likes me, and I don’t really like me, either. I wish I was dead.” Stunned, I did my best to console and reassure the unfamiliar rose who clung to me, sobbing. Over the next weeks and months her parents and teacher employed extraordinary measures, trying to revive her spirits.
Rose’s struggles continued on through third grade. When she came with her class as a fourth-grader to buddy-up with my kindergartners, I saw glimpses of the original, self-assured rose I once knew. To my kindergartners’ great delight, she organized grand dramas and dreamed up original playground games, always making certain that everyone was included in the fun.
During this year’s annual school variety show, amid silly skits, jokes, and magic tricks, a taller, more graceful, pre-adolescent rose strode onto the stage. “She’s beautiful!” I mused, noting her serene smile and composed demeanor. Her melodic voice crooned these heart-rending lyrics, “There’ll be beauty from pain, though it won’t be today. Someday I’ll hope again and there’ll be beauty from pain. You will bring beauty from my pain.”*
Tears formed and slid down my cheeks as I recounted rose’s difficult eleven year life journey. School has been mentally and emotionally demanding and friendships have not come easy. Still she is a child of tremendous purpose. Most of her peers cannot begin to comprehend concepts as deep as God’s purpose for pain in the lives of His children. But rose is as gifted spiritually as she has always been in so many other non-academic ways. Part of her inspiration is no doubt still derived from her deceased great-grandmother Rose; but she is so much more than a little rose. She is also a little Christ, with great purpose for this life and the next.
“Dwell on this, little Christian – and we are all little Christians – dwell on this. Your inheritance is to reign like a king or a queen in the presence of God (see Revelation 3:21). Let this sustain you in the frustrations and the heartaches and the pain of this present life.” –John Piper
Queen rose will nobly and joyfully reign with great strength and determination; and she will live happily ever after in the kingdom now being prepared by the King of Glory.
* “Beauty From Pain” by Superchick
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