The Test of Inner Strength
Sharing one’s blessings is synonymous to giving oneself to others. Material blessings are only one form of gifts we can offer those in need. Beyond these, we can share a lot more of ourselves—our talents and skills. However, we also have to consider that sharing what we have may sometimes be complicated. At some point, some people do not appreciate what we do, which ultimately tests our inner strength.
As a student, I joined extracurricular activities geared towards helping children with disabilities. Most of the children I encountered were friendly and cooperative, except for one boy who was about 14 years old when we met. I tutored the kids and helped them with their school assignments, and sometimes held some Bible study/reflection with them.
I loved the kids I worked with. They appreciated what I did, and joined each of our activities with excitement and joy. However, one of the boys got me disappointed at first. The first time I encountered him, he made me feel unwelcomed. Since it was not my first time to handle kids, I tried to overcome the pressure he implied on me, but he was very insistent with making me feel that he did not need my help. He was very rowdy during our reading sessions, and always made side comments about what I said during reflections.
Each day I went to see them, I longed more to help the kids but at the same time, I also sought his appreciation. Even though I felt a bit disappointed with his attitude, I kept calm about it and considered his feelings and the reaction of other kids if I try to humiliate him for his arrogance. At the back of my mind played the thought of how I could put him down in front of those who were a lot younger than him, or cause him disappointment he will likely remember all his life. I wanted to shun him, make him feel left out and have him repent for the scorns he showed me every time I tried to help him with his studies.
Three sessions passed and I let him be himself. I tried to be patient and made him feel of my interest to be his friend. However, my efforts were futile. Instead of becoming friends, he was rude to me and his classmates. I reported the issue to the Head of our organization, but wanting to protect him from being punished, I also told the Head that I will try my best to change his attitude. The Head also told me that the boy had always been like that, as if the world did not matter to him, but he is a bright boy and a slight change in his view would make him very productive.
I remembered all the advice the Head gave me and promised myself that I will not give up no matter what. On our fourth meeting, I already memorized the names of the kids I tutored. By this time, we were very acquainted with each other and they have gotten close to me except for the 14-year-old boy. I asked the kids to read a story and while the others were busy with the book, the boy did not even open the material I lent him. This ignited some anger in me, and I approached him right away.
Before I reached his seat, I had a sudden change of mind. I was not sure if it was my own nature to act that way or some divine intervention worked in me that time. When I reached the boy, I was sure at first that I would show him how angry I was because he was not cooperating for the nth time. However, when I looked into his eyes, I felt sympathy instead of fury. Therefore, instead of saying some hurting words, I uttered, “If you have any trouble I can help with, remember I am just here. I’ll be your big brother/sister.”
The boy seemed surprise with what I told him. He was shocked and he seemed happy. When I turned my back I felt him reaching for the book and turning the pages. After that session, I talked to him and asked if he could help me with my things. He gladly did so and that started our friendship.
As days passed, I learned that the boy needed to feel the warmth of his family, and he missed his brother/sister so much. He was very disappointed when his brother/sister left him to start a family life. With interest to help him excel in his studies and change his attitude towards life, I played his big brother/sister, and still kept in touch with him until now.
The experience I had taught me a lot. From it, I learned that anger is not a solution to conflicts in relationship. Rather, acceptance, patience, and unconditional love are ingredients to soften a tough heart. The improvement I saw in the child I encountered made value more the help I could give others. I will never forget how this experience tested my inner strength, and made me develop more inner beauty.
The test of inner strength allows a person to experience the art of thinking critically and acting rightfully. Often, people respond to stimuli in their environment, leaving behind the consequences an act may bring. In the experience I had, I believe I exercised art of critical thinking and right judgment. By choosing to utter words of comfort, I showed the boy how much I cared. Now I know that the decision I made that time is correct, and I carry the experience with pride. The test of inner strength not only made me realize how to think and act in the right way, but it also molded my character. As I take on a new path in life, I would look back at this experience with pride, and remember to exercise caution in the way I think and act.