Last Friday I spent the afternoon with friends from school. After a wonderful lunch made by Bernadette (fried rice, chicken stir fry, fish cutlets and too much ice cream) we went to watch Mariam in her Toastmasters conference speech contest.
Mariam is young, vibrant, ambitious, and talented. I feel a bit motherly because she’s the same age as my daughters, and my daughters live 11,000 kilometers away. For that reason, and the fact that she is a great speaker, I was anxious to show my support and watch Mariam in her public speaking.
It was so fun to hear her do her table talk speech. It was lovely and engaging. She shared on the topic of how it takes time to reach your goals. She spoke eloquently about wanting to win a first place trophy in her first speech contest in high school. Instead she got third place in her first contest. But after years of practice and hard work, she finally won a first place trophy.
Since then she has had many first place awards. Including that very day with that very speech–another first place trophy. Congratulations, Mariam!
Her second speech was in the International category. This speech was about a child she worked with in school once. It was a troubled boy who was mean and disrespectful, but as she kept getting to know him and love him he opened up and let himself be known. It was a lovely, warm and great reminder about all the different students we meet in school. They all need to be known and loved. Even the ones with tattered covers.
One of my favorite quotes from her speech was about those tattered and unpleasant covers that people sometimes show outwardly: “Don’t judge a book by its cover. What you see might just be an awful cover of a wonderful story. All you need to do is flip open the cover and read the story.”
I took her simple quote to heart this week and looked with new eyes on each of my students and their wonderful stories.
Each has a unique cover, and each has his own blemishes and foibles. Clearly though, each one is formed in the image of God, and therefore each is a wonderful story unfolding.
I am blessed to have a small part in the shaping of their stories.