My friend Jaidyn, though nearly always calm and reserved, is undoubtedly engaged and unwaveringly earnest.He has such a pure way about him, a sweetness that far too often hardens with age and cynicism, and he looks at things, I think, in a pretty simple way. I first noticed this upon meeting him for the first time. I sat next to him at dinner, on wrinkled blue tarps at Summer JAM, listening intently as he told me about his rock collection and his pet worms. He took a careful sip from a tiny cup, placed it gingerly at his criss-cross-applesauced feet and said, quietly and matter of factly, “water is good,” a contented smile spreading slowly across his small face. I agreed. He told me more about his worms.
Throughout the night, however, he repeated this ritual at the mention of most other nouns: brownies are good; the sunset is good; books are good; the desert is good… Initially, I smiled at his sweet simplicity. The profundity in his matter-of-fact affirmations, however, gave me pause. Jaidyn was reminding me, quiet utterance by quiet utterance, that there is purity and everyday magnificence in recognizing what is good because it was made by a wholly good Father—a Father who loves us deeply and wrote his love across the deserts and splashed it across twilight skies and wove it into the taste of brownies and demonstrated it in small sips of water and the smiles of children. Jaidyn’s simple proclamations echo those of God himself, looking down upon creation: it is good, it is good, it is good.
I certainly don’t think the world is black and white. There are parts of our children’s lives that are unthinkably complicated and the lines between good and bad are often blurred. But maybe this is the essence of holding on to the hope we profess—this refusal to forget all that is good even in the midst of the brokenness, this continual recognition of the countless gifts we have been given, the ensuing praise of the Giver himself. This is the sweet irony of working with PTM— throughout my time spent with students, they are the ones so often speaking truth and encouragement over my life and reminding me of the goodness of God.
A couple of weeks after Summer JAM, I found Jaidyn, now enrolled in summer programming, running around outside with new friends and an ear-to-ear grin. As we sat down on a bench and waited for games to start, he turned to me and said simply, in typical, soft-spoken Jaidyn fashion, “PTM is good.” I couldn’t contain my smile. Indeed it is, Jaidyn— I am grateful every day for the ways that God is using PTM to remind our students (and me) that his goodness is truly abundant.