The Faith Room

By Amy A.

When PEACE moved from Devlin #10 to #20 a year ago, having so many more rooms took some getting used to. We had to learn the art of utilizing our space, of maximizing its peace-making, nurturing, and organizational potential. Hence, the birth of—and I was the mom—the Homework Room.

Despite the fact that homeworking activities are performed in several of the rooms throughout the building—the Front Room, the Reading Room, and sometimes even the Lego Room and Snack Room—the name “the Homework Room” somehow landed on just one very special place. It’s the space, tucked a little ways into the building, designated for the optimum stimulation and mitigated distraction of kids (mostly tween girls) with multiple homework assignments, who just need a more focused environment.

The Homework Room is very dear to my heart, maybe because it’s where I cut my teeth when I started “full time” at PEACE, or maybe because it’s the birthplace of real, live miracles. It’s the place where a ten-year-old girl—a girl who historically has gotten easily discouraged by challenges, who used to try to convince herself that she was dumb—recently swept in, set her books down deliberately in her customary spot, and declared without prompting, “I believe in this! I can do this! I’m gonna do this!” A miracle, a couple of years in the making, was birthed in the Homework Room at that moment. Made my year.

Like I said, one special place. Though, now that I think about it, I can’t point to exactly what’s so special about it, other than the fact that we decided to make it special. We ought to call it the Faith Room. (Faith: the substance of things hoped for, evidence of the invisible.) Because… well, just look at what was visible:

A round table in the center—that is, filling up most of the room from the center—with an attempt at a rug all rumpled underneath; six or seven chairs crammed around it. A pink plastic tote in one corner, turned upside-down, an off-white tablecloth flung over it, and a digital clock glaring from its perch atop the makeshift end table. In the opposite corner, a translucent brown curtain guards the window, bouncing some sunlight back to where it came from, reluctantly letting a bit in. A black file cabinet sulking in another corner. The utilities room behind a jam-prone sliding door, bathroom behind another door that doesn’t lock or even close properly. A chronic leak that means the floor is a little warped and not quite the best place to set your stuff, not unless you check it first.

That’s what you’d have seen if you had peeked into the Homework Room anytime between a year ago and three weeks ago. But it’s not what I saw. By faith, I looked at that humble, dim, eclectic, little room, and saw it for what it truly is—a small sanctuary. Faith and faith alone lit up the Homework Room for a year. Faith adorned the walls and anointed the precious hearts that crossed its threshhold. Faith—just a tiny bit, sown—made that room what it is.

It’s the place where we drop our walls and are not ashamed to do our best, not afraid to try. It’s the place where fear turns into determination, frustration to hope, and awkwardness gets peeled back to reveal the beauty beneath. The conversations are more monitored, more intentionally steered in the Homework Room, the noise level more strictly enforced. This does not serve to make the atmosphere more tense. Instead, these little girls, soon to be little women, walk in and know that here, they will be listened to, and they don’t have to yell or act out to get my attention. I’ll sit here and call out, by faith, to the real you who’s in there somewhere; because she’s worth knowing, worth dying for, worth the designation of a whole entire room at the afterschool program.

For a year, it was enough that we had a Homework Room, that we were trying; faith filled in the gaps. And then, a few weeks ago, I walked into the Faith Room, and got promoted to the next faith—realizing how ugly it really was. Really? Brown curtains? You guys, we have to do something! This outward appearance is not matching up with the true nature of the room! We need to get some light in there! Some color! Some pink!

So we did. It finally looks like the sanctuary it has been since it began—with whiteboards and an elegant clock mounted on the wall, and a real rug. As we stood in there hanging up picture frames in the warm, colorful light of our brand new lamp, I commented, “I know in my head that this isn’t actually a miracle. I know that. It’s cheap frames and a hammer and nails. But this feels like a miracle. I feel like a miracle is happening right now!”

It was that snap! moment, when reality finally catches up with faith. That is what a miracle is, right?

I sure hope, by the way, that you have a Faith Room. But if you need a hand jump-starting yours, swing by #20. You can have a peek at ours.

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“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen… By faith, we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:1,3).

“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established. And by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches” (Proverbs 24:3-4).

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