Loving like Jesus in a classroom where His name is not allowed

So…I’m a teacher now. I know right? Crazy. 10th grade English to be exact. I never thought I would say that. Me? A teacher? Weird. Never say Never.  I said it, and look where it got me. I have a feeling God uses irony in the novel that is our life. Crazy how we plan things and God comes along and laughs at our puny dreams. Reminds me of that quote by C.S. Lewis I love so much:

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Sometimes we settle for just being alive. We settle for an okay job, an okay career, an okay marriage, an okay life. God wants more than an “okay” life for us. He wants to give our life a purpose to use for HIS GLORY and HIS KINGDOM while we are still here on Earth.  He knows the gifts He has given us, and where we can use them well. He knows where our gifts are most needed, and where they are not so much. So if He moves us to a different place, we should also chose to Trust Him, knowing He has His own purpose and plan, even when we don’t see it; even when we don’t understand.

A few weeks ago I was feeling very lost. I finished my Bachelors degree, I was in Seminary working on my Masters, and I was working as a secretary for an Elementary School, but I felt very stuck. I didn’t know what my next move was. I had such an unsettling feeling in my stomach. I felt like I was not growing, not being challenged, not using my talents and gifts to the best of my ability. So I prayed. Hard. I told God how I felt. I felt lost because I’m the kind of person who needs to know their next move. I have to feel like I have control of my life; like I have a plan and a purpose. But I needed guidance.  Ever since I was a little girl I thought I was going to be a Social Worker and I always dreamed of eventually doing long-term missions somewhere in a foreign country. Over the next few weeks I kept praying, asking God for direction.

What God did and has done in my life over the past few weeks has blown my mind! Trust me when I tell you that prayer DOES WORK! AND BOY, does HE EVER ANSWER!

A few people had mentioned teaching to me, and at first I said “NO NO NO, I Could NEVER be a teacher.” Look at me now! HAHA. After a few weeks of thinking about it and getting advice from different friends I started to really consider it. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to teach about what I love, while getting to love on students, and getting summers off was a big plus! But…I still had my doubts, and I have to admit I was very scared. Change is scary. Stepping out of your comfort zone is scary, doing something completely different than you’re used to doing your whole life…is SCARY! Standing in front of a bunch of 10th graders who smell fear (LOL) is SCARY!

So one Sunday afternoon I was sitting in church, and Pastor Jeremy was talking about trusting God to guide your life. He talked about how we need to let go of our comfort and step beyond and into God’s purpose for our life without fear. And well… I thought “Dang it, Jesus. Okay, Okay, I hear ya, loud and clear!” (love those moments) So here I am. Exhausted and food deprived. (Apparently, I get so busy I forget to eat) But that’s what I prayed for. I told God “I need to be challenged! I need to feel like I have a purpose, like I’m growing, like I’m making a difference!” And well, His answer to my prayer is not exactly what I was expecting but… BAM! He made me a teacher. And so now after my first week, I’m so challenged and overwhelmed I could cry, but instead I just laugh because despite how tired I am, my heart has never felt more full. I am so full of JOY. I have this crazy, overwhelming love for my students who I barely met. I find  myself thinking about them when I get home. When they are quiet in class I’m wondering what’s going on in their life, and somehow wanting to make it better.

So today I kept pondering. How can I love them like Jesus? How can I be the light to the kids who need hope the most? Because I was that student. That student who still had to go to school and put on a smile even though her dad was in jail, even though she was pregnant and she could hear the rumors whispered in the hall when she walked by. I was that student who was told her life was “over” and all my “dreams and goals” could be thrown out the window when I became a teen mom. The student who sometimes had no electricity because her mom couldn’t afford the bill, but had to show up to school like nothing was wrong.

So how can I be a living, breathing, walking testimony of the gospel when I can’t talk about God in the classroom? I was thinking about it all day, because there are moments I truly don’t know if I’m making any kind of difference in their life, or if I ever will. 

And then God answers in that really obvious way that sometimes slaps you across the face. Haha! (You gotta love Him.) I came across a quote by Matt Chandler that I had saved from my “memories”. It says: 

“What made me love Christ wasn’t that all of a sudden I figured out how to do life. What made me love Christ is that when I was at my worst, when I was at my lowest point, when I absolutely could not clean myself up and there was nothing anybody could do with me, right at that moment, Christ said, “I’ll take that one. That’s the one I want.” 

Then it hit me.

How can I show my kids Jesus in a classroom where I can’t even say His name?

Just like that.

By loving them.

The way Jesus Christ loves me every single day. The way Jesus chose me when I was at my worst, my lowest point, when I couldn’t do it alone, and nobody else wanted to deal with me, God saw me as what I could be, and not as what I was. When everyone wrote me off as a lost cause, He saw me and said “I’ll take HER! That’s the one! She’s the one I want! I don’t care if she has misbehaved, or doesn’t understand,  I still LOVE HER.

Loving them despite their behavior, loving them despite their learning abilities or disabilities, loving them even when I feel they don’t love me back. When other people say “I can’t have them in my class” “They are a lost cause” “They are incapable of being taught” “They have no hope”. I will say…

I’ll take them.

That’s the one.

That’s the one I want.

I will see them as who they could be, not who people say they are.

Choosing to love them even when it’s hard.

One by one.

Because that kind of love changes lives.

It changed mine.

My life didn’t change because of anything I did. It changed because of who God is. The way God loved me even though I was so unworthy and despite my shortcomings, made me want to do better.

When you feel loved, changing feels a whole lot easier.

 When you feel loved, learning becomes a whole lot easier.

“And if those children are unresponsive, maybe you can’t teach them yet, but you can love them. And if you can love them today, maybe you can teach them tomorrow.” – Jeffrey Holland

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”- John 13:35 ❤

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