“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” (Maya Angelou).
Somkit was always the last one to finish his assignment, if he finished at all, and his classmates often teased him about it. I could tell that he felt ashamed, but he kept plugging away, head down, desperately scribbling the sentences from the whiteboard in his tattered notebook. I tried to help and encourage him, but he knew that he just wasn’t as quick as the other kids.
At lunchtime, I would often see Somkit eating by himself. I could see the longing in his eyes to be accepted by his peers. He always tried to keep a smile on his face, but I could see the hurt when the other kids purposely avoided him. Even most of the younger kids steered clear of him, not wanting to face the ridicule of their older schoolmates.
Sometimes I would see Somkit sitting cross-legged on the ground next to the footy court while the other boys played. He has a developmental issue that causes him to walk awkwardly, so nobody asks him to play.
Somkit is 18 years old now. He is a bit short for his age and kind of thin. But when you connect with him, his eyes sparkle. One thing he likes to do is ride his scooter around the village. He also likes to exercise. I like motorcycles, too, and I work out every day. We often share a laugh and a playful punch. Boys like us need to roughhouse a bit.
Several months back, he started coming to our kids’ church program every Sabbath. He is always the oldest there, but he really wants to learn English. After a few weeks, we just started treating him like a teacher’s assistant. He is very helpful and works well with the younger kids. He helps them with their crafts and tries to keep them in line when they get rowdy. It’s easy to see how much he appreciates the respect we show him.
More than anything, I think Somkit just wants to feel accepted. I can resonate with his yearning, because I feel it, too. I pray that Somkit will find the ultimate answer to that longing in the Love and acceptance of our Savior. “How precious are your thoughts about [us], O God. They cannot be numbered!” (Ps. 139:17).