As I go into a new work week, I am reminding myself of some things I learned last week.
In a 5 day workweek, I learned that I need to stop being so sad and reaching the edge of depression over the fact that I spend my days with other people’s kids while I miss out on so very much of my own kids’ lives. I learned that I need to stop whining to others and to God about how much I want to be home so I can be involved with my kids’ day and so I can take care of my home the way I feel I should. I learned that I need to not whine about how I’m so exhausted by the end of the day that I can barely help my kids with their own homework. I learned that I am being incredibly selfish every time I even think about these things – every time I allow myself to feel guilty for telling my babies I can’t be there for them.
It only took 5 days for me to remember there are kids who don’t go home to parents. There are kids who leave straight from school to work (or from work to school) because they are already forced to support themselves. Some are already supporting a family they started earlier than they intended while some are working to support their parents. I was reminded that my kids have a mom and 2 dads (or 2 moms and a dad for my step-sons) who love them and help them with homework and who cook (or purchase) meals for them to ensure they have food and even snacks for every meal every day while some of my students go without. I was reminded that my kids have not 1 or 2 but THREE parents who teach them about life and God’s love, protection, salvation, and forgiveness. They go to a school where they are loved on by their teachers and learn about God in everything they do. I was reminded of how my kids have parents who protect their eyes and ears from things that rob them of their innocence and parents who want to know where they are and who they’re with at all times although we are made to feel by our kids and outsiders as if we’re horrible for being too involved and overprotective . . . all while I beat myself up at least 20 hours of the day for not being able to be involved enough. I was reminded this week that there are kids who yearn for parents to be even somewhat involved in their lives because they would at least know they’re loved. I was reminded I have students who don’t even see their parents because they live hours away from them.
I was reminded that the enemy has such a hold on people that they are willing to diminish themselves just to be able to say they have a friend or a significant other. My kids don’t get to have me at all times, but they are constantly reminded of their worth, while I have students who have never once been told they are valuable. In fact, some are consistently told of how worthless they are.
I was reminded that while we constantly worry that we’re about to have a driver in the family, there are kids who have to work hard to pay for their own broken down cars and work on them for a couple of years to get them running just so they have something to drive.
And while we spend many nights trying to figure out how we will be able to help pay for our kids to go to college, for the first time in all my years of teaching, I learned there are kids who are living in fear and hate themselves for decisions they’ve made to do something out of character and illegal in order to make money so they can one day go to college.
This week, I was reminded that I take for granted how easily we go to God whether we want to talk to him just because or whether we’re in need or someone else is hurting or when we are excited. I was reminded that there are so many people who have no idea who he even is. I was reminded that I was called to do what I do because there is a need for someone to love on these kids and not necessarily tell them about God’s love for them but to show them.
My heart breaks for them.
My kids get that every day whether I’m with them or not. God made sure of that. I think he did that so I would be free to be what my students need.
I was reminded that I’ve missed many opportunities to do that this year and that I need to stop focusing so much on myself and take a look around me at the tears falling from the eyes of my students who are trying to do school work while real life is breaking them. I was reminded that God called me to do what I do. To go to him with discontent or whine about my situation means I’m completely missing my purpose.
This week I learned that God has placed me exactly where he wants me to be, and he has given me the opportunity to do exactly what I’ve prayed almost daily to do – to impact lives, encourage others, build confidence and help people realize their identity in Christ. I learned that my pleas for it to change have been completely in vain. I learned that all this time I have been praying against my own prayers to be used by God in this exact way.
I’ve learned so much in just 5 short days. My students don’t realize just how much they teach me when they walk into my classroom.