As I was sifting through the mountains of papers I brought home to grade this week, I noticed my blood pressure rose in direct proportion to the grades my students made. My stomach churned, sending rockets of acid boiling back up my esophagus. My head ached. My joints screamed out in pain as I clenched the red ink pen that marked the papers. Had I not known better, I'd swear I had the flu. Reality sat in, and I knew what I was suffering from: Caring-itus. Is there such? Staring at the papers before me, tears welled up in my eyes. WHY did the same students continually demonstrate poor learning skills? The bright red F's on their paper echoed the consequences of students who refused to study, would not stay on task, and more and more simply seemed not to care. I have lost nights of sleep trying to find some new dog and pony show that would interest the students enough to accidentally learn something. Nothing I've tried has worked so far. With the tons of unrelated-to-teaching paper work that the government has us completing, there seems to be less and less time to devote towards meaningful teaching strategies.
Where is Grace in all of this? Is grace tied to everything, or is it simply a word used in the religious circles? I thought about Paul's' admonishing to Timothy to think of things that are pure, holy, of good report. Well--that simply throws teaching right out the window, doesn't it? How can I think of the 'good stuff', when the 'bad stuff' keeps staring me in the face? This is nothing new. Paul, I'm sure, would have loved to roam about freely sharing the Gospel, without having to be flogged, arrested, beaten, jeered, starved and everything else he had to go through. Ahhh--there's Grace! He knew, that, in spite of his floggings (my uninterested students), his arrests (my government giving me yet more paperwork to complete) being stoned (students with chronic absences), he knew that better things were yet to come. His eyes were on the prize before him, not on the results of his teachings below. Should I mimic that attitude? My desire to teach is God given, of that I have no doubt. I can only do what I can do, and let God handle the rest. There has got to be more to life than reading, writing, and 'rithemetic. These children need more than that; they need to know someone actually loves them for who they are, not for what they can accomplish (ie. being a straight A student) My job is to teach them. The higher calling is to love them.
As I continued to mark papers, my mind starting entertaining some new thoughts. Instead of getting bent out of shape when "Little Johnny" failed yet another math fact quiz, that will serve as another reminder that Little Johnny needs to know someone cares. God knows when the time is right to share that with Little Johnny or anyone else. That's the bigger picture--not if the kids can do their math facts, but do the kids realize that the God of this universe loves them so much He'll move heaven and earth to draw them until Himself?
If God chooses to use me for that purpose, then glory to Him. If not, I'll simply resign myself to be available. Life's too short to miss the real thing!
A Grace Gal