Monday, November 9, 2009

A Meaningful Life

I like Mondays. I look forward to going to work. I am a problem solver and these kids and this school have many problems. I love my kids. Also, my personal motto is from Micah 6 and says, "Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God."

Roseland Christian School allows me to practice justice (equal education for students who wouldn't get it in the public schools and historically haven't ever gotten it), love mercy (everytime a student needs encouragement or a boundary enforced and then relationship restored), and I couldn't do this job without God. Anyone who lacks humility will not survive in this place.

I have had to look at myself--my hidden prejudices, my reactions and behaviors, my way of handling children, my anger, my need to be in control, my need to be liked, the way I raised my own children. So much I've had to work on. I've had to work on emotional consistency even when I want to tear a child's head off. I'm not always successful at not being cranky and crabby, but most days I am.

I've immersed myself in Love & Logic, an incredibly effective set of disciplinary principles and practical set of suggestions. As a result, when a child does something I immediately pause and hear in my head, "No anger, lectures, threats, or warnings." Initially, I used a lot of Love & Logic one-liners like "I like you too much to argue."

Eventually I came up with my own lines, often incorporating my own sense of humor. The impression I try to give is that I can handle anything they throw at me with ease. I try to be that charismatic adult in their life who can inspire them to become more than they ever thought they could be, to overcome barriers and difficulties they thought were insurmountable.

I feel free to be myself with these kids probably more than I am with adults.

I've learned a lot teaching. I learned I am a glass half full kind of person. I'm also an every crisis is an opportunity kind of person. When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade, etc. The fact is, life is hard. When you accept that and don't whine about it, it gets a lot better. Doesn't mean we shouldn't vent once in a while. Doesn't mean we don't despair at times. But even in my toughest times, I was always aware that joy from the Lord lay just under the surface. Weeping may last for a day, but joy comes in the morning. (Ecclesiastes)

That joy bubbles up when I teach. It bubbles up even more without the weight on me. My spirits become almost irrepressible and the kids sense it and respond.

One of my favorite old hymns is: When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say, "It is well, it is well with my soul."

Christianity is not about pie in the sky when you die bye and bye. We have a God who cared enough about us to become human. A God who has gone through and experienced everything we've gone through. A God who experienced such a horrifying death that he sweated blood anticipating that death.

This God walks with us through everything that life throws at us. He is the source of my joy, of my growth, of my goals, of the peace that attends my way. Living with Him eternally is a bonus. It's for this life that I need Him.

A song that I wrote last spring goes like this (based on Phillipians 4)

I could've been a superstar
but that wouldn't take me very far
I am content.
I could've had a mansion
and worn the latest fashion
but I am content.
I am content
no matter what the circumstance.
I am content
no matter what my lot.
I know what it means
to live in want or have plenty.
I know the meaning of being content...
Is I can do all thingsthrough Him who strengthens me.
Yes, I can do all things
through Him who strengthens me.