by adustyframe ~ June 3rd, 2009

In 4th grade, my family moved back to a state we  previously lived in.

My dad became the assistant pastor at the church we attended before. My sister and I enrolled in  the small Christian school.I was happy to be back in school with my childhood best friend.

I wasn’t happy to be in school with William.

William was one of “those” boys. He was annoying. He was always in trouble. He didn’t listen. No one liked William. His siblings were mean to him. The teachers were mean to him too.

Looking back as an adult mother, I’m so sad that the teachers treated William so badly although I know he was difficult.

I taught at a preschool once and one of “those” boys was in my class. Loving him was very exhausting, so I’m not being sad about the behavior of the teachers without some understanding of the difficulties they faced with William.

I ignored William and I was mean to him too.

In 5th grade, I got my desk assignment. William sat next to me! I went home steaming mad and demanded that my mother do something.

My mother did something alright! She told me that I would pray for William.

She told me that she expected me to be kind to him and show him the love of God.

GRR! I argued with her! “But Mom! No one will like me if I’m nice to William.”

Mom told me that I had to be nice to William and I had to pray for him. She said I didn’t have to hang out with him, but she made it clear that I had to treat him the way God expected Christians to treat each other.

William annoyed me to no end that year. He interrupted me several times a day. He talked to me in class. He borrowed my stuff without asking.

My friends started teasing, “You like William! You like William.”

Liking William was akin to liking boogers you’d think by the way they teased me. I said, “No, I don’t ‘like’ William. I’m just being nice to him.”

I survived the year. I remember how relieved I was on my way home from the last day of school. No more sitting by William!

The following year, the teacher seated me by William since we had done so well together the previous year.

Major GRR! I blew off steam to my mother after school. She reminded me of her expectations and so the second year of my “daily dose of William” began.

After awhile, I decided he wasn’t so bad. He was just an annoying little kid. Sometimes he  even made me laugh.

It’s interesting isn’t it how praying for someone changes us! I’m pretty sure that William wasn’t less annoying, but my heart toward him changed when I prayed for him.

At the end of the year, we shared blessings from our school year.

I don’t remember what I shared, but I do remember William’s blessing.

He stood up and wiped his nose on his hand. William ALWAYS wiped his nose on his hand! He pulled out a dirty piece of paper and began to read.

“I thank God for Lizzie because she’s the only friend I’ve ever had.”

I sat there stunned. I can’t imagine never having a friend.

I didn’t treat him as a real friend. I tried to be nice to him and I prayed for him–that’s it.

I think about all the friends that James has. They’re always happy to see him at church. Friends often call to see if he can come play with them.

I can’t imagine how sad William’s life was.

The small kindness I showed him impacted his life.

Guess what? William impacted my life too.

I learned that people need friends. I learned that annoying people are often hurting and looking for someone to extend God’s love to them. I learned that praying about a situation can change my heart.

I don’t know what William does today. I heard he served time in prison. Unfortunately, that didn’t surprise anyone. I wonder if he was only living up to their expectations. I wonder what William’s life could have been if only more Christians showed him the love of God.

I pray for him sometimes. I hope that God will touch his life and bring William godly  friends.

Are there any Williams in your life? Start praying!



10 Thoughts Shared to William

  1. Ame

    my special needs daughter can come across as a ‘william’ sometimes. i’ve had parents tell me how they have coached their children to treat my daughter respectfully.

    as a mom, well … i cannot describe. i have no words adequate in this language to convey.

  2. Melinda

    What a beautiful yet painful story! If only we could see people as God sees them.

    How blessed you are to have such a wise momma!

  3. Sisterlisa

    What a good story Lizzie. Thank you for sharing that. Well written too. There is someone I knew in high school that I still pray for. He’s serving life in prison. :O(

  4. Barbara H.

    Unfortunately I have gracelessly to some “Williams” in my life. Excellent point, Lizzie.

  5. celina

    as Ame said….its hard when your child doesnt have the required tools to be “normal” with aspergers (what jayna has) they come off as brisk, rude , to the point…and she gets defensive after a bit and it manisfests itself quite obnoxiously at time..sigh…

    so to those who are like your mom, THANK YOU…its very difficult to be the parent of a child perceived as this…and we are at such a loss….their true self only manifests itself when they feel safe and happy, so at home mostly….

    we all knew you were brought up “right” lizzie….you exude grace. and i’m sure william picked up on it…

  6. Christy

    Loved this, Lizzie. Will be reading it with my kiddos.

  7. Jenn

    Ditto to what Ame and Celina said, from a fellow autism mom. My Nick can come off as a “William” on his more spectrum-y days. Regardless of a special need child’s diagnosis or outcome, the bottom line – the heart of it all – is that parents wish more than anything that their child is loved and accepted by his/her peers. Nothing brings me greater joy than to see my son playing among the other children at the playground. When other moms at the playground are huddled together visiting, I’m the one sniffling in my tissue weeping with joy. Your mom is a wise woman. Thank you for this post, from the bottom of my heart.

  8. Anna

    Wow, this was a powerful story! Thank you for telling it. I too will be reading it with my children today.

  9. Rebekah

    What a touching story – an excellent reminder that we may never know how we touch someone’s life when we are kind.

  10. Kerri

    What a touching story!

    I have a somewhat similar story. Our class had “Katie.” Katie was “slow,” but not enough to be in special ed. She was annoying, and she couldn’t really relate to the rest of us and didn’t play with us. Kids made fun of her sometimes, but the teachers seemed to keep things in check.

    Once junior high started, things started changing. She was much more interested in making friends, but she always wanted to get in with the popular group. They would make fun of her and humiliate her.

    My mom always gave the same advice your mom did. She told me that Katie couldn’t help being how she was, and that I should always be kind to her.

    Finally, my Junior year in high school, a school organization had a girls’ lock-in (slumber party.) We had all stayed up too late and we were testy. One of the really popular girls, “Lisa”, started making fun of Katie. Of course, everyone wanted Lisa’s approval and they joined in. Katie was in tears, but didn’t know how to handle the situation.

    I finally asked the Lord’s help, gathered my courage, and was the person to tell Lisa to knock it off. I was very afraid that she would turn on me and make me the laughingstock, but in typical bully fashion, she didn’t really want to meet with someone equally strong. She backed down. That has always stayed with me, because it was probably the first time I had really stood up for what was right at a risk to myself. I didn’t really know what I know now about bullies, so in my mind, at least, it was a risk!

    That was 20 years ago. Last year, I got started on Facebook and Katie found me really soon. She had filled out one of those Q/A things the other day, and my name happened to be on it. It said, “What is your favorite memory with (Kerri)? She actually wrote: “High School Lock-ins” as her answer!

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