As a teacher, I consistently run into people who assume that I only work with high school, middle school or college age students out of duress. The looks I get when I assure them that I enjoy students in Middle School through College are pretty priceless. It’s as though I’ve suddenly grown a third eye or sprouted a horn out of my forehead. And then I simply compound the issue by telling the person that I find it laborious to work with students below about 5th grade. It’s not that I don’t enjoy one-on-one time with younger kids – I adored that time with my own four children and continue to do so with the niece and nephews- but large groups of students in the early elementary age-group is absolutely exhausting for me whereas large groups of students from middle school up is exhilarating!
Archive for May, 2012
I do not feel obligated to keep people as Facebook friends. I know, I know. For many people the goal of Facebook is to see just how many “friends” they can have. But I have been known to clean house occasionally, removing friends that I no longer encounter or have reason to chat with via the internet. And on a few occasions, I have been known to get rid of Facebook connections when those people start becoming a detriment to my thoughts or my perspective on life.
I just recently went through the latter experience. This person has had a VERY rough few years. But this person has allowed some really horrid experiences to make her a very bitter person. She sees nothing good in her own life and does her best to make sure that no one else sees anything good in their own existence. We hadn’t chatted in quite some time and for some reason she just realized that we had left Pennsylvania and were living in Iowa. She asked what I was up to career-wise and when I mentioned that I have a collection of part-time or seasonal jobs her reaction was laced with venom – “Well you’re everyone’s lackey aren’t you! Always taking orders from everyone!” Actually, she used a much more “colorful” word than lackey but I won’t put it in print!
There is much about my work situation that I love – working with teens and college students in the theater world, teaching at the collegiate level, etc. – but it can get exhausting at those times of the year when I’m running hard and fast with more than one of my part-time jobs. Would I like a little more “control” in the workplace? Maybe. But with more control comes more responsibility and that can be annoying.
Prior to speaking with her, I saw no reason to be dissatisfied with my work situation. Yes, more money would be nice, but I love the jobs I work which is always as important (or more important) than money. But after her little dig, I started doubting everything. With little effort, I started finding negative with each work situation I encounter. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit provided me with some really positive experiences in one of those jobs and it quickly reminded me why I am doing what I am doing.
The “friend” I mentioned before kept our Facebook conversation going, taking every opportunity to shred my sense of contentment. So I deleted her. She didn’t take it well, sending me a Facebook message telling me that she was simply trying to push me to try to “make something of my life.” She went on to say that she understood that I might not like what she had to say but “sometimes the truth hurts”. What she didn’t understand was she has no clue what the truth is about my life.
She commented that I had musical and theatrical talent and should be using it for something more meaningful than working with some small-town community college and podunk high school. My skill, according to her, is being wasted if I do anything with it other than perform.
The truth? I have former students who STILL call me mom and have stayed in touch for years. They occasionally seek my counsel or kindly accept it even when they don’t ask! I have numerous friends with whom I have shared performance experiences that are a great source of encouragement to me and make sure to offer a sincere “break a leg” each time they know a show that I am involved with is taking the stage. I have colleagues that treat me with respect and make coming to work every day a joy.
If all I leave behind me is a legacy of students who know that somebody cares about them, I’m fine with that. Despite what my former Facebook friend thinks, that will definitely mean that I have “made something of my life.”
I want more than what I am willing to give. In other words, I’m selfish. Shouldn’t be a news flash. I’m human and humans are inherently selfish. Don’t believe me? Watch any toddler at her first play date. She will knock another child over to keep a toy to herself. It doesn’t even have to be her favorite toy.
I watched a child once walk around with a plastic box full of his favorite toys. He wasn’t playing with any of them, he just didn’t want the other little boy that was there to play with them. What he didn’t get is the fact that his desire to keep the toys from the other child meant that he wasn’t having any fun either!
I want grace extended to me when I screw up. Whether it’s a confession made in the privacy of prayer time where I am simply asking for God’s forgiveness and grace or a face-to-face apology to another person that I have wronged, my purpose is always to obtain forgiveness, grace, and restoration.
So one would think that my desire to be forgiven would lead me to willingly, eagerly forgive others when they have wronged me. Makes sense, right? Unfortunately, my selfishness extends even to my willingness to forgive others. I am aware that humans will occasionally do things to hurt others and will need to be forgiven. In my selfishness, I want others to screw up less often – or at least in ways that effect me less! – so that I am not called on to extend as much grace as I ask for.
It’s a tough lesson to learn. Forgiving is scary! We don’t like letting people off the hook if they’ve hurt us. But forgiveness isn’t just about the other person. Yes, you will occasionally forgive others who continue hurtful behavior. Sometimes you might even find yourself having to forgive someone who doesn’t even admit they’ve done anything wrong much less seek your forgiveness.
But forgiveness is necessary. It keeps us from nursing grudges or seeking revenge. Ever met someone who can’t forgive a wrong suffered in their past? Are they fun to be around? In my experience, not usually!! They tend to be so angry that they can’t let go of the hurt long enough to fully enjoy anything!
So my challenge to myself is to forgive quickly; especially in those moments where forgiveness isn’t sought by the “offender”. The clincher for me is the portion of the Lord’s prayer which states “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”. Do I really want God to base his forgiveness of me on how I forgive others? Do you?