It’s finally May. This is no surprise to you, I’m certain. But hello?? I’m a teacher. Of 6th graders. Bless their little hearts. It’s the home-stretch of baseball. The 4th quarter of football. The last leg of the baton race. Standardized testing is over. All. The. Praise. Hands. We’ve attempted to mold young minds with the importance of knowing all things grammar, Ancient Egyptian culture, writing a hypothesis, and graphing integers. We are all business up in here. And occasionally, we danced, ran outside, watched Kid Snippets (I highly suggest it for a giggle), and had heart to heart talks that made me tear up and feel all the feels. You see, we have our kiddos for nine months. Eight hours a day. We hand out band-aids. And yes, 6th graders ask for unnecessary ones, as well. We have snacks in our cabinets that kids can grab when they are hungry. Because honestly, we aren’t ever certain if they had dinner the night before. We go through boxes of kleenex and Clorox wipes like nobody’s business. And the drama. Oh, the drama. I can’t say anymore about that. It’s a known fact that 11-years can’t refrain from chatting for more than a two-minute stretch. Which leaves us a about five minutes to teach. We dote on our kids, practice tough love, give them the “teacher look”, worry when we haven’t seen them for days, and expect big things from them. Because they can do whatever they set their minds to. We are their cheerleaders chanting, “Go Team, GO! Keep going, don’t stop, you’re almost there, we’re tired, too, but YOU ARE AMAZING!”
Don’t get me wrong. Teaching is not the glamorous life you may imagine. Surely you know that I’m dripping with sarcasm. I’m basically The Old lady in the Shoe with 75 kids. And to be honest, there are days that I feel like I’ve made absolutely zero impact on any of them. None. Deer in the headlight none. I come home, drop on the couch, leave my school bag in the same place I left it the night before, and wonder if I have another skill-set. If it’s been a half-decent day, I may eat a bite of dinner and stay up past 9 pm. Tame it down, wild woman. Every ounce of energy had been spent speaking the wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia, the land between two rivers. We even rapped about it. I’m semi-cool, but they’d never admit it. I get major brownie points when I say, “this is lit”. Ask a middle schooler. And if we “dab”, we’re pretty much their favorite.
I find myself in this place every year. Wanting the school year to end because there’s a pool and some sunshine with my name on it. And I’m just tired. Weary to the core. And at the same time, I still have a knot in my stomach on that last day when their buses pull away and I wonder if I’ve done enough to make them feel confident in the next step of their journey. Even the EGR, (extra grace required) kids, who send me over the edge of insanity. How hard is it to bring a pencil to class? Like I’ve given you at least 127 of them. So I stew and wonder if they’ll have pencils next year. Will someone keep snacks for them in their cabinet? Mommas worry. It’s our specialty.
So let’s talk about how EGR I truly am in God’s eyes. He must surely look down and say, “That one…extra grace required. Like way extra.” The ULTIMATE teacher who has way more than 75 kiddos to keep in line has His eyes on me. He promises to keep us in his sight. In Psalm 121:5, scripture says, “The LORD himself watches over you! The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.” (New Living Translation, NLT). Not only is He watching over us, He protects us in the shade of the Almighty. He never grows weary of pouring Himself into our souls and giving us the strength and confidence to keep going. He does not sleep. He’s awake and the keeper of our tears, worries, and hurts. Confidence in man doesn’t get us very far. Confidence in God is our only hope.
I’ve been pondering just exactly what He’s been teaching me this school year. It may not be math or science, but I’ve had some homework. And I don’t particularly love it. At all. And I’m certain that my chatty self has missed some major pieces of information that I needed. How thankful am I for the snacks He’s left for me in the form of the most precious friends ever? For the women in my life who have poured truth into my soul, when lies had taken over. Who cheered me on from the sidelines, “You CAN do this…keep going…you are almost there!!” when I was crawling across the finish line. God is good like that. He sets His children smack dab in the middle of the most lovely of places to help us SEE and EMBRACE what He’s teaching us. Sometimes he gives me doses of tough-love that I don’t really appreciate. I bet He has the “teacher look”, too. The “are you really going to do that again when it didn’t work for you the last 50 times you tried it?” He continues to give me pencils when I’ve lost all notion of what step I need to take next. As the student, I need to start listening and stop filling up the quiet with noise. Quiet makes me anxious. It’s unnatural. But if I don’t allow the quiet, I’m not prepared for the next assignment. I miss the opportunity to learn from the Master Teacher, Himself. Do I turn left here, or right? Do I stay where I am? Do I pick up my backpack and start walking? Proverbs 18:15 tells us that, “Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge.” (NLT). I’m certain He shakes his head and thinks I’ve learned zero lessons today. I didn’t choose to open my ears and ready myself with His truth. I’m thankful that there’s always a tomorrow to start fresh. That joy comes in the morning. That this Teacher never gives up on His students.
If you want to hook up for coffee, I’ll be in the classroom repeating the same instructions 15 times in a span of seven minutes. Kind of like Jesus does for me. And I’ll try to do it with a smile. I’ll buy more pencils. We will “dab” because “school is lit” and we will feel so incredibly confident when we get on that bus the last day. A new journey awaits us. Bring. It. On.