During my first few days on campus, I saw many posters about Big Pal Little Pal. My RA on third floor was an officer in the club, so I went up to her room and asked her to sign me up. Within a week, about 80 students all went to the Boys and Girls Club to get our little pals. I remember all of us sitting on the bleachers outside, so nervous when we found out that the children got to pick out their big pal themselves! The BPLP president brought the children out, and for awhile the children all stood and stared at us. I felt like I was under inspection! One tiny little girl with long, pretty, strawberry-blond hair caught my eye. She was wearing blue jeans, a green tractor t-shirt, and black tennis shoes, and was hiding behind her big sister. While we waited for the signal to “pick your big pal,” I started to play peek-a-boo with her from about 20 feet away. She was giggling and playing along. What a cute little princess! I thought. All of a sudden, I really wanted her as my little pal, so I started praying that she would pick me. When [the president] finally told the kids to pick, the little girl ran to me and jumped into my arms. I was more than thrilled! Her name was Jessie* and she was 6 years old.
Over the course of the semester, I was able to spend lots of one-on-one time with Jessie and show her some undivided love and attention. I went over to the Boys and Girls Club at least twice a week. As I started to get to know her better, I found that Jessie was definitely not a girly-girl like I had first thought. She hated to have her hair brushed, preferred boys’ tshirts, jeans, and shoes, and loved to get dirty. She loved to run around and hated to be cuddled or hugged. Taking her picture was impossible! In order to have a photo of her to show my family back home, I had to sneak pictures on my cell phone when she thought I was text messaging! My little sister, only a year younger, is a princess in the full sense of the word, and I was at a loss. I had no idea what to do with this little tomboy! I didn’t want to try to change her. I wanted her to know I accepted her and loved her just the way she was, I just could not figure out how to relate to her at all! I wanted to get her little presents, but what do you get for a little girl who doesn’t like dolls or lip gloss or jewelry? I finally discovered that she likes bubble gum. She chews it 24/7! I bought a huge bag of double bubble at Wal-Mart and every once in a while, I brought a few pieces to leave with her when I left. I also discovered her taste for kit-kat bars and brought them every so often as well. Gifts seemed to be the best way to show my love as she did not like me to hug her and did not talk much.
Being Jessie’s big pal has taught me so much about patience and perseverance in loving someone when they do not necessarily show love back. I had to learn to be content to love unconditionally “though the more abundantly I love, the less I am loved” (2 Cor. 12). It is very hard to get her to talk, especially about her feelings. I am still learning when to ask questions and when to let her alone. I am learning that I don’t need to make her like me. All I need to focus on is being consistent and trustworthy. Every once in awhile, there is a moment where she is really happy to see me or shares something important that shows that she really does trust me. I hold onto those moments when she is acting indifferent or like she wants me to leave. Sometimes, I think perhaps she does this just to get attention. Maybe she really does like me, but she thinks if she shows it, I’ll stop trying catering to her or trying to win her trust. Or perhaps she really does not trust me yet, but it will come in time, if I am patient and love consistently.
Wow. I just read over what I wrote and what conviction I felt! How many times have I done this to God? I constantly shrug off His offers of Love. Though He has proved Himself trustworthy again and again, I still question Him and put my faith in other things. I refuse to talk to Him about my needs, my feelings, and my problems. I brush Him off and ignore His precious Word. Am I worried that if I show that I like Him, He’ll stop loving me or trying to win my trust? How patient He is with me! He just continues to love, love, love, love, consistently and sacrificially. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down lay down his life for his friend” (John 15:13). My little gifts of double bubble and kit-kat bars are NOTHING compared to the Love Jesus showed on the cross! He DIED for me! And He continues to try to woo and win me, even though I am stubborn and resistant! How silly it is for me to say I am discouraged because Jessie doesn’t always seem to “like” me! She’s only known me for one semester; God has been calling me to love Him for 19 years! I did not join Big Pal Little Pal to be liked by a seven-year-old! I joined Big Pal Little Pal to make a difference in the life of a little girl! Whether or not she chooses to like me is completely up to her. My job is to love her. My job is to show GOD’S love to her! HE LOVES HER, so much more than I ever ever could! He died for her; He wants her to trust HIM! It’s not about me! It’s about showing JESUS to Jessie! It’s about Jessie seeing the consistent, sacrificial, undying love of God shining through me! That is my job; that is why I am a part of Big Pal Little Pal.
I will never regret being Jessie’s big pal. Whatever happens in the future, I hope I made her feel special and gave her a “big sister” to look up to. So many of the children at the Boys and Girls Club come from broken homes and have been through some terrible experiences. Big Pal Little Pal is helping them to find a friend they can go to when they need help. All of the big pals are role models to their little pals. Nothing could be more important in the grand scheme of history than this. For “a hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove...but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child” (Forest Witcraft). Jesus said “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14). If Jesus placed such a high priority on children, don’t you think we ought to treat them as an important part of God’s kingdom as well?
Maybe I’ll never see the fruit, but hopefully from my friendship and encouragement Jessie’s life will be positively affected. Learning to love, love, love, love, unconditionally and sacrificially is the most Christ-like quality I could possibly develop. Being a part of Big Pal Little Pal is teaching me to love like Jesus, and for this I am immeasurable grateful.