Joy

This school-year began hard. At the end of the first day of school, I walked down the hall to a co-worker’s classroom and sat on a desk and cried. I told her that it wasn’t my students (and it wasn’t), but it was me. I wasn’t sure I was made to do this. I didn’t have enough ability or energy, or perhaps most of all, enough love. I looked at my students and I looked at the teachers around me and I thought that maybe inside of my ribcage, instead of a muscular heart, pumping and giving, that maybe I only had sand. I did not seem to be enough.

And then my grandma died and my sister moved to London within days of one another, and things got oh-so-busy. So busy that I have not written here for over a month, even though I’ve wanted to. By way of an update: I have cried a little, been angry a few times, and laughed more than maybe I should. I have learned what it is to be unexpectedly encouraged through supportive parents and writing poems and silly games at the end of class and getting to act in a play again.

I’m reading through The Jesus Storybook Bible with a couple students, (which is a different story for a different day,) and a few weeks ago while reading about the battle of Jericho, I came across a line that stopped me and held me still: “So it was that God’s people entered their new home. And they didn’t have to fight to get in — they only had to walk.” So maybe my heart need not be a muscular hero, because there already is One. Maybe I am not always called to be a soldier “on the front lines of humanity,” but just a child who walks faithfully after my God. Of course I am not enough. I was never intended to be.

And I don’t know if God meant me for teaching, but right now, he certainly means teaching for me. High-schoolers can be uniquely bitter and uniquely joyful, often within the same hour. Last weekend I went to a regional one-act competition with Caldwell’s drama department. It’s funny to see what happens when you put about three hundred theatre kids in an auditorium for hours on end. They eat it up, they find friends, they get loud, they glow. More than once, in the forty-minute breaks between shows, sixty or seventy of them would congregate down front to play a game called Pony-something-or-other (or maybe it was Something-something-Pony?) They stood in a huge circle and clapped and chanted and danced with each other. They turned exuberant and pink and out-of-breath. I sat curled in my hard seat and watched and laughed and said “absolutely not” over and over whenever our kids bothered me to join them. To watch them dance is to be warm and to be still and to know.

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