I live in a world of little hands and little minds. I’m an elementary teacher. It is definitely one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs I have ever had and through it God has taught me so much.
I’m going to tell you about two very different days in the life of a teacher.
The cold air from the open doors seeped into the room, leading the children inside from the bleak grey outside. Their feet could be heard as the walked down the hall, excited for the day ahead.
My plans were perfect. Everything was ready for the day. I greeted the students at the door where each student rushed to hug me after neatly putting away their things on the hooks. The morning was great! The students got to work right away, our transitions from activities were smooth, our discussions were meaningful. WITHOUT hesitation they followed my directions, reading the instructions themselves and figuring out the unknowns. All of the students walked in a single file line, straight and quiet, so as not to disturb the learning of their peers on their way out to recess.
After recess and lunch the students came back RESPECTFULLY, walking to put their things away and sitting quietly and patiently at their desks for further directions. The afternoon saw no hiccups. The students were eager to learn more about our studies and listened carefully. I engaged them in our lessons, asking leading questions to help the students make connections. They were eager to solve the math problems, enthusiastic about writing.
By the end of the day the students were sad to go but followed my directions and quietly packed up so as not to distract the students across the hall. As they left they thought about how it was a great day of learning.
The cold air from the open doors seeped into the room, leading the children inside from the bleak grey outside. Their feet could be heard from miles away as the stampeded down the hall, voices SHOUTING at their friends, racing to be the first one to class. My meeting had RUN OVER so I was RUSHING to get into the classroom before the students. I had failed to get the morning work ready before, so I entered the classroom to running and loud talking. The students had a hard time working quietly at their seats. They couldn’t STOP talking. The teacher across the hall had to SHUT her door. The students were inattentive and didn’t follow directions. They kept getting out of their seats and we were behind schedule all morning. It took FOREVER to line up for recess and even then the students could not form a single file line and talked the entire way down the hall.
After recess and lunch the students RAN back into the classroom. The afternoon saw THREE meltdowns by three different students. There was a disturbance in the boys’ bathroom half way through the afternoon that was caused my two of my students. The class was unengaged and inattentive the whole afternoon. It was like pulling teeth to get them to complete the activities.
By the end of the day the students were happy to get home and noisily packed up their things distracting the class across the hall again. They ran out the door and onto the busses not listening to my instructions.
On which day did I love my kids more?
Which day was it easier to love them?
The answer to both of these questions is DAY 1. I’m not going to lie. It is easier to love my students when it’s easy, when they are gracious and kind, when I am getting love in return. It’s hard to love them on the days that they aren’t treating me with respect, when they are inattentive and impatient.
BUT IT WAS ON ONE OF THOSE DAYS, A DAY 2, THAT THE LORD REVEALED TO ME A SIMPLE TRUTH:
“I STILL LOVE YOU ON THOSE DAYS.”
You see the scandalous thing about the Gospel is that despite our actions, despite our sin, GOD STILL LOVES US. God DOES NOT see us as different. He does not love based upon our actions. He loves me the same on my best days and my worst days. Even on my worst days he still loves me. His love NEVER changes.
He is faithful in light of our unfaithfulness. He is patient despite our impatience. He loves even when we do not love in return.
In Romans 8 it says this, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We didn’t earn Christ’s love. We don’t earn His love. While we were still sinners Christ still came to die. That truth shattered my hard soul; it melted me as I looked into the eyes of my little friends (as I affectionately call them).
Even on a day 2, by the grace of God, in light of the love that has been lavished upon me, I could love them. That I could look at my friends and know that they don’t deserve my patience when they are testing them, but NEITHER DO I.
Working with kids exposes the rawness in us. It can be messy, but the mess has a purpose as it serves as a reminder of how God loves us even in our mess. Take heart teacher, no one is perfect, but we have a good, gracious and perfect Father that loves us despite our imperfection.