Lessons Learned from a 7 year old

A few times a month I have the privilege of visiting, playing games with and helping kids with homework at our local children’s emergency abuse shelter.  They have taught me way more than I could ever have imagined.

On my most recent visit, I walked into the common area-the living room of sorts to meet my friend  ‘Shelby.’  She greeted me with a slight smile, her big blue eyes and a “Hi, Ms. Pepper.” I asked her where she wanted to sit. “In the corner on that rug” she replied. The area rug was full of vibrant colors; blue, red, green,  and orange. The aide wheeled her over and helped her out of the wheelchair to the floor.


We sat together taking turns reading with casual conversation in between.  One of her favorite books and mine is the Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams because -‘the rabbit my Mom gave me looks just like that one.’ She said her Mom used to read it to her- that was before she left them.

As we were setting up the Game of Life, she softly said, “Ms. Pepper, Daddy didn’t mean to break my legs.”  My heart sank and eyes began to tear up as I glanced over at her casted legs.

Here was a 7 year old precious little girl to whom I barely know, sharing her story and scars with me.  

What is so remarkable is despite her Mother leaving  and the incomprehensible act of her Dad physically abusing her, she chose to see the goodness in and offer forgiveness to those who hurt her.  She allowed herself to be vulnerable, Real and open to  love just like the Velveteen Rabbit.

As we carried on with our Game of Life and laughing along the way, I noticed how cold and sterile the common area felt like a hospital cafeteria or waiting room. The walls were stark white, the couch was old and musty, the chairs at the table were small and hard.

Shelby chose to find the one part of the room that had life and color.  The courage, optimism and strength of this precious child will serve her well on her journey through life.

On this Thanksgiving Day,  a sweet little girl will be on my mind.

I am thankful for my time with her and know our friendship will remain strong as she helps remind me that we always have a choice of how we look at life.


Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!


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