"Another day, another dollar." Hearing this from another teacher at the start of each day grated on my ears this semester. How can he, I thought, not want to serve his students? Why is this just a job to him?
Listening to this each day and living in the muck and mess of teaching, I found myself pleading with the Holy Spirit regularly. I fell asleep thinking about my students, and was ruined by the lives they struggled to live. I prayed constantly for a heart to lovek them and to speak truth to them. I asked to be made transparent and genuine, and I asked for a chance to share the Lord with them. Some days I lived in my own strength, and some days I relied on the Lord. Some days I wanted to quit and run far, far away. Regardless, I began to love these frustrating, annoying, disrespectful children in ways I couldn't understand.
Coming home the last day, I was ruined. I read the sweet notes my students wrote me, and my heart ached. In my tired/stressed stupor, I couldn't figure out what was going on in my heart. Why did I hurt for them so much? My sister asked me, "Is it because you love them?" And of course, she was right. I knew it, and had known it all along. Even on the days when I told myself I couldn't stand them and I couldn't wait to leave, it wasn't true. Even on the days, when I nodded in agreement at my colleague's catch phrase, it wasn't true. The Lord wired me to teach and love and to never do either halfway. Even when I don't feel like it, I wear my heart on my sleeve and dive into the mess with others.
That night, the song Hosanna popped into my head. The Lord showed me that he had answered my prayer in a huge way; my heart was broken for the things that break his heart. I had asked to be given a heart of love, and he broke me instead. And yet, here I was, unable to pour into these kids any longer, hurting for them and wishing I could do more. That's why I was so conflicted. It's like the feeling I got each week when I counseled girls at Hume. I would spend hours listening to them, staying up with them when they got sick and constantly asking the Lord to speak through me and use me to share his grace and truth with them. Six short days later, they would all leave, and I would ache for them.
Yet, this time, this semester, the feeling was that much stronger, as these kids are family in a strange sort of way. And I was discouraged with the reality that I can't love on these students anymore. Then, last night at church, Shea was teaching on Galatians 6. He read, "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." He reminded us over and over, to not. give. up. To not stop sharing with others and pouring into them, that they may taste and see Christ, fully. And my heart lept again. I still want to be with these students and love them, but I can keep praying for them, and I won't stop. And although I may never know this side of heaven if I reached them in any way, I have begun planting seeds.
This verse has taken on new meaning again. I'll continue to pray and seek opportunities to love on my students. I'll still undoubtedly wear my heart on my sleeve. I will love too much. And I will not grow weary, I will not give up. I will praise the one with whom I have been crucified and share his grace with others, because I simply cannot keep it in.