Last week, Cody stole a pair of shoes that had been left on his bus. He was caught, and the shoes were returned to the rightful owner. When I asked Cody why he had stolen them, his reply was simple and direct: “I needed shoes. My shoes have holes in them, and I don’t have any nice ones. That’s why I stole the kid’s shoes.”
Cody walks into class every day wearing the same raggedy jeans, the same faded jacket, and the same worn out shoes—not to mention reeking of cigarette smoke. From what he has told us and what we have observed, it’s obvious that his parents don’t have a lot of money and that they don’t invest wisely with the money that they do have. Thus, stealing a pair of shoes didn’t surprise me.
With his birthday approaching, I asked Cody what he usually did to celebrate. All he said was, “We eat cake.” So, in the spirit of turning thirteen, and in the light of his recent robbery attempt, my wife and I decided to do a little shopping.
Today was Cody’s big day. I had planned to take a personal day anyway, so I took advantage of the opportunity to swing by his house this morning and drop off his present. His parents were a bit overwhelmed at the gesture but very grateful. When he returns from school in a just a bit, Cody will walk into his house to find one of the only presents that he will most likely receive: a large bag with two new pairs of shoes, a Nike shirt to match them, and the following letter:
We just wanted to wish you a happy birthday! I’m grateful for the hard work that you have put in this year. I know that it has been a difficult learning experience at times, but this is true of anything worth accomplishing. It takes time and patience. There are no shortcuts to success. I would encourage you to stay focused and to keep striving for excellence. DO NOT SETTLE! The moment we settle is the moment we quit improving. We must be proud of how far we have come, but we must have faith in how far we can go.
Every day, you maintain the same positive attitude and cheerful spirit. Having the ability to consistently approach each day with a smile is a unique gift. Not everyone has the mental or emotional strength to do that. God has given you so much potential to not only be a good student but to also bless people’s lives. Never lose sight of the quality of who you are. Make it a goal every day to love God, love people, and become the best version of yourself. You have a great future ahead of you, and I’m confident that you will continue to stay on the right track to reach it.
I’m proud of you! HAVE A GREAT BIRTHDAY!