As a teacher, I am constantly challenging my kids, pushing them through their laziness, whining, and trying to overcome their defeated attitude. Trust me, it is daily, hourly struggle. Teachers have the hardest job in the world! They have to take on 20 + individuals needs while keeping their own sanity. My kids are smart but they are lazy. They want the easy way out, the short cut, or someone to do the work for them. For 8 months, I have endured this. I have tried bribing them with food, candy, parties, allowed them to sit with their friends at lunch, and everything else you can imagine for them to be successful in school.
We took a Science test on Friday. During instruction and review, I could see that the kids were well prepared and knew the information. I knew they would all pass. One student in particular kept bugging me about his grade. You see he just received his progress report and most of his grades were close to failing. His parents took away all his important possessions which in turn lit a fire under his you know what and now he is desperately trying to pull his grades up. I gave him his test and you could see the disappointment all over his face (he failed). He was crushed. This child is tough; a man’s man you could say. I looked up and saw tears coming down his face. My heart was broken. I pulled him to the side and told him I would let him correct his test with the opportunity to pull his grade up. He jumped at the chance! He did not let anything distract him. While all this was taking place, I felt the holy spirit rush all over me, but had no reason why.
Later on that night, I was having dinner with a friend. I was telling her what happened that day. I explained that this was one of the first times that I felt God’s presence so strong. Had I been missing opportunities like this in the past? Was I failing as a teacher? She flat out said, “No!” She said that I am finally seeing the fruits of my labor. I have been pushing and challenging these kids and some of them are finally at the point where they are desperate to make better choices and obtain an education through their own efforts. This child was at a point of desperation, cried out for help, and I was there to lend a helping hand.
This is how it is with God. He pushes us…challenges…wants better things for us! We can keep following our path, hitting all the bumps in the road, and missing all His opportunities and blessings. Until we are at the point of desperation, down on our knees crying out to Him, His presence may not been known. All you have to do is cry out for help, humble yourself, and He will be waiting with outstretched arms! Proverbs 16:9 says, “We can make our own plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Who’s path are you following?
In my profession, I’m not just an educator. I am a therapist, nurse, drama coach, doctor, janitor, exterminator, mother, police officer, and parole officer. Never in my wildest dreams did I believe that I would take on so much! I will tell you…I never signed up for this!
As an educator, it is my job to equip children to be able to live in society. I am to provide them with an education as well as life skills. Some days I am able to teach. I teach language, reading, spelling, writing, math, social studies, and science. Other days, I am just trying to survive. I often feel like Jeff Probst, the host of CBS’s Survivor; only I’m not on an exotic island. I’m in a stinky classroom that smells like a combination of dirty socks and glade plugins.
Is it enough to teach children how to multiply, complete long division, problem solve, and write proficiently or should I teach them about relationships, how to get along with each other, and what battles to fight and what battles to let go? I try to put myself in their shoes and think as a child; however, I am in my 30’s and they just reached double digits. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Looking back, what do you remember about elementary school? What is more important; the ability to decipher between geometrical shapes or the relationship you had with your teacher?
A friend of mine once told me that sometimes God makes us so desperate for what we want, that we will do the work He has planned for us. I know exactly what she was talking about. I desired a teaching job for over 2 years. I went on numerous interviews and was turned down everytime! My sister told me that God had to have a reason for all this disappointment. He seemed to close every door of opportunity that was presented to me. Looking back, I see that I would have accepted what ever job was presented, but He was not ready for me to do that. Those jobs were not what He had planned.
He had a special plan for me. A plan to restore hope in the lives of young children who come from broken homes and desperately need someone to believe in them. Somedays I wonder if I am that person…am I capable of such a task?!? There are days when they get the best of me and when I lose my composure. I cry more days than I laugh! I have tried quitting more times than I can count…still I go on! I have to believe that God knows what I can handle and gives me the strength to endure the environment I teach in. 1 Timothy 4:14-15 says, “Do not neglect your gift which was given to you through a prophetic message. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.” I pray that someone will see my progress and that I may be a light in this world of darkness.
One of our local gas stations always has advertisements that catch my eye. It is quite comical you might say. For instance, it will first say “Now Hiring” and the next line will say “1 gallon of milk $3.69”. It never fails, they are always hiring something (Pepsi 6 pack, cigarettes, etc) besides people. You may not see the humor in this, but I always get a good laugh..haha!
I know what they are trying to communicate. I know they are trying to advertise that they are hiring and they have great specials (all in this condensed message), but the message is not clear. I feel this way at times. In my heart, my head, I know what I want to say or express, but I end up conveying the wrong message…ugh! For example, I ran into a friend I have not seen in over 4 years. All I wanted to do was jump up and squeeze his neck, but I ended up giving him a pat on the back. Really….what did that pat on the back say? I do this all the time and I cannot stand it!
One of the lines in John Mayer’s song “Say What You Need to Say”, says, “Even if your hands are shaking, your faith is broken, even as your eyes are closing, do it with a heart wide open.” That’s just it…say what you need to say! I close with a quote from Dr. Seuss. “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” If you can do one thing for me, learn from me in the lab, not on the field trip!
If I heard that phrase once, I heard it 100 times! Little did my friend know how his words would impact me. Currently, I find myself in a plateau of my race. It feels like a small setback. I wonder what I did wrong? Did I not pray enough…study God’s word enough…just be still? I find myself looking back and wishing things were different. I fight hard not to allow my mind to slip back in that place. Joyce Meyer always says, “Where the mind goes, the man follows.”
I have ran a few 1/2 marathons in the past few years. Training for those required true dedication! You start off running a mile every three days and then increase to 4 to 5 and complete your long runs on the weekend which usually consists of 9 to 12 miles. I’ve always ran the Chicago half which takes place in October. Lucky me, the training takes place during the summer months in the south…ugh! Is is worth it you ask? Yes, to cross that finish line knowing you did this all on your own is the greatest feeling in the world!
At the beginning of every race, I am a bundle of nerves! I have all this emotion inside of me and when the gun goes off, I’m gone! I take off way too fast and try to keep up with the people around me. It never fails; by mile 2, I have shin splits…painful! Then I spend the next few miles trying to recover. That is the place I find myself today. I was feeling all these emotions (up and down), trying to resolve these issues, trying my best to forgive people, walk in love, and then here goes the big crash; a couple of bad days and a mind that is working overtime.
Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and thanks. Let your requests be known to God.” I know this is all I can do. I have to fuel up and rest for what lies ahead of me.
Well, with a little help from my cousin, I found the courage to call up my Pastor. We decided to meet for coffee and just talk. I’m sooooo glad that I did! It is such an accomplishment to come full circle. It has got me thinking about true forgiveness. It is one thing to say you forgive someone but then keep avoiding them. True forgiveness is being able to meet them face to face and actually say, “I forgive you!”
The way I measure true forgiveness is if I can say that I am thankful for the experience. I also give up hope (only time not to have hope) that the past could have been different. To walk in forgiveness is to have your emotions catch up to your words!
I once read (I’m sure it was a Joyce Meyer book…I love her!) that Christ never allows the hearts of His own to be shattered without excellent reasons and eternal purposes. The purpose of my broken heart and soured relationship was to learn how to forgive and forgive quickly. It is amazing that one week ago, I felt agonizing pain and today I am walking in forgiveness…anticipating something great! Another piece of the puzzle has been added and I am restored once again!!
Thank you father for never leaving my side!
Everything happens for a reason! I’m sure you have heard this a million times. Do you believe this…I mean truly believe this? I certainly do! For instance, I stopped at a random book store in search of a new book of daily devotions. I am a huge fan of Joyce Meyer and knew that she had a couple of good ones available. I picked up “New Day, New You” and began thumbing through the pages. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across a post card advertising the Church I used to attend. Seriously…I thought I was being “punked” (for those of you who know Ashton Kutcher’s t.v. show)! I quickly put the book down and headed to the bathroom as a means of an escape. Seriously…where did I think I was going to go?
The reason for all this self induced drama is that the relationship with the Church turned sour and I made a decision to leave over 8 months ago. Although I forgave the situation and the people, I never made peace with it. I guess you can say that my emotions never caught up with my words. Finding this post card was not a coincidence. God orchestrated this beautifully! He made it possible so I would reach out to my Pastor and make peace. The question is do I obey God or flee?