August – You have fresh pressed dress pants and an eye-catching pedicure peeping out of your new wedges. You’ve meal prepped a week’s worth of grilled chicken salads and have them organized in sleek matching Tupperware in the teacher’s lounge refrigerator. Your lesson plans are typed and full of interesting research-based activities. Your words are chiming with Conscious Discipline lingo from your summer workshops. “I can see you are feeling upset because your face is like [this], is that right? Which strategy A, B, or C could I help you to choose to calm down? Great! Amazing choice precious dear one, you did it!”
May – Is it Wednesday? Can I wear my school’s Wednesday shirt with jeans. Oh it’s Monday? Oh well, I already have this on. Lunch? I think I may have a bag of popcorn somewhere in here from the Halloween party. Maybe I could dig in my purse for quarters to cover my over-drawn lunch account to buy a child’s hot dog plate in the cafeteria. My lesson plans? Where are those things any way? My words? “SON IF YOU DON’T FIX YOUR FACE IN THE NEXT THREE SECONDS, I WILL FIX IT FOR YOU.”
By the end of the year, I am weary! The kids are weary! The lunch lady is weary! The above may be an exaggeration, but the feel is real. I can be so quick to judgment and impatience. I long for my August self that was softhearted and full of grace.
Speaking with my dear teacher friend, Lisa Donham, we complained together of our end-of-the-year woes, but marveled at our student’s ability to love and forgive us even when we’ve had it! I dearly treasure working with children. They are deeply loving and incredibly resilient. I don’t deserve their hearts. Lisa talked about her student’s sweet gifts of love: superhero drawings from the boys and cut out hearts from the girls. All these love letters decorate her classroom walls. “We love you Miss D!” “You are the best Miss D!” “Miss D, you are so pretty!” Those children adore her and follow her around like little chicks.
Like all teachers, Miss D is a little weary at this point in the year. She, like me, is ready for summer. Ready for a break to renew her spirit and zest for teaching. And like all students, her class is weary. They fuss and fight with each other, ask a million questions, and do not always turn in their work. But still, “We love you miss D!”
Exasperated, my dear friend Lisa declared to her classroom.
“IF YOU LOVE ME, THEN DO WHAT I SAY.”
As descried to me by my dear friend, no sooner had the words left her mouth, her heart stilled and her gaze turned upward.
How many times have we offered our praise to Jesus? “Jesus we love you!” “Jesus you are worthy!” “Jesus, you are beautiful!”
We offer our superhero pictures and cut out hearts to him. Yet we do not do what he says.
John 14:15 says, “If you love me, keep my commands.”
Lisa’s heart is like our Lord’s. “If you love me children, then PLEASE just do what I say.”
1 Samuel 15:22 reads, “But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.”
I am convicted that my obedience is far more important than my little paper hearts. And I am humbled to work in a place where my darling friends can convict me of this.
Happy summer dear teachers and friends! SM
Special Education Teacher (Snyder, TX)