I took this picture a few years ago as I sat in a classroom waiting for students to arrive. If I remember well, it was a group I was meeting for the first time. Yesterday, I stared at the picture and wondered about those students who graced the walls of this room. Those who sat in these seats. I teach mostly young adults – some older ones at times. Did I do right by them? Did I influence, encourage, motivate them to truly ‘live’? Not just merely exist? Way beyond the content matter of the subject we delved into – Did I speak life and hope into them? Did I overlook a depressed, troubled life? Was there one crying out for help – one I didn’t see? Was I too busy trying to cover the curriculum?
Some may argue that’s not what I was paid to do. Maybe so. But, that’s what I was called to do. I am so blessed to be paid to do what I was called to do. I am who I am. Called to use my words, my intellect, my gifts, my resources, my talent, and my time to light a fire and pour oil on wounds. If you come in my classroom and I sense you need me – I will be there for you. While I have a responsibility to effectively deliver the content, this content will be wasted if it is poured into depressed, hopeless, troubled souls. In this classroom, the whole student is important.
Just to be clear, I don’t ‘preach’ Jesus in my classrooms. I reflect Him in the way I love my students. The way I treat them. They are seen and heard – they matter. On more than one occasion students have said to me – ‘there’s something different about your class’. One day I remember standing at the door of my classroom [pre-pandemic, when I taught in person]; a student stopped, looked in my eyes and asked if I believed in God. I said yes. She said, I sense that presence in your class and in you. Today, years later, that student still calls and ask me to pray for her. She still shares her life stories and ask for my advice. A few months ago, in passing, she said, ‘I want to have that relationship with God that you have.’ I never once ‘preached’ to her.
You may not be in a classroom like mine. What about your sphere of influence? Your pals at the gym, on the job, the book club, your grandkids, your college mates or those at the coffee shop. The guy who cuts your grass or does your hair. Your hard-to-live with family member. Maybe even a spouse. In this climate of hate, fear, depression and hopelessness – let’s choose to speak life. Let’s choose to be the kind one, the one who extends grace and forgiveness. The one who speaks the truth in love and with conviction.
We can’t give what we don’t have. So may the giving begin with us. We begin to extend grace to ourselves, forgiving ourselves, and speaking truth to ourselves. May we begin to touch lives out of the overflow. A few weeks ago, some students came by the school to meet me in person [ I teach virtually]. We sat, ate, and talked a bit. They discussed how they walked out ‘religion’ in their native countries [my students are all immigrants]. One student, whose culture primarily practices an eastern religion, made a very interesting comment. She said she liked the God of the Christian faith because He seemed more personal – you can have a relationship with Him. Someone must have modeled that for her. She opened a door for the other students to comment – I did too. I simply mentioned that the God I have a relationship with wants to do life with me . All of it – every aspect of life as we know it. A seed was planted.
Let’s attempt to live in the moment so we don’t miss the opportunities to touch lives as we go. We’ll have less regrets and less ‘ did I’. For those of us who claim to have a relationship with Christ – ” Let’s reflect His love – use words when necessary.’
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. [Romans 12:9]
*** Thanks for stopping by. I’d love to hear your thoughts.