Reading My Mail

The past 2 days have been bliss. Pure and simple bliss. I have been on no one's time schedule but my own...and have loved every minute of it!

I wish I could tell you that I have set the world on fire with my productivity; but alas, it is not so. I completed a small amount of Christmas shopping Saturday, then returned home to become a Sofa Spud. Imagine my surprise when, about 8 p.m., I actually got BORED! (I hadn't experienced that in a while, so initially I was alarmed...I thought I was going to have to call 911!)

Sunday, I went to church where, once again, the pastor was reading my mail. The message was over "Hard Lessons for Christ Followers"'s the cliffnotes version:

1. There is a difference between being right & being righteous.
Right = concerned with the letter of the law & works, being legalistic, and man judging man.
Righteous = focused on the spirit of the law, operating by faith, being redemptive, and letting God do the judging.

2. Doing God's will necessitates sacrifice, discomfort, and inconvenience.
We don't always know what the end result is going to be.
We need to look beyond the finite, and look to the eternal.

3. The work of God will always produce an unpredictable response in people.
Negative response: people reject it from the start ... and don't deviate from that.
Positive response: people accept it/support it from the start...and don't deviate from that.
Mixed response: people reject it at first, and after revelation that it is God's will...embrace it.

I've been very open about my belief that teaching is my ministry. As I go through my day with the kiddos, I try to remain open to hearing their heart...and seeing what I can do to help. I don't preach to them..."You should go to're living in sin...etc."....but I do try to show them love and kindness and acceptance and assistance whenever possible. I also hold them accountable for their behavior, and show them that yes, choices do have consequences. (And sometimes they're not enjoyable....but we deal with the consequences and then move on.)

During my time at Uberschool, as well as my BuggyJourney of the past year, I've experienced each part of the pastor's message.

1. There is a difference between being right & being righteous.
There are many things about Buggy's life that I disagree with on a black and white, purely legalistic, basis. So many things. And he knows that. But, if I focus solely on what's wrong...and sit in judgment of him and his life and the people in his life...I am going to force him to shut me out and I will be rendered powerless to help him see how to slowly modify the choices he makes.
Even the simple fact that the teacher/student label doesn't fit our relationship...when in true black & white terms, that's what we are....has been a paradigm-shift. Even though I feel like he's part of my family ... in truly legal terms, he's not. But if I define it based on the spirit of the relatioship...then everything makes sense.

2. Doing God's will necessitates sacrifice, discomfort, and inconvenience.
Time, money, emotions, mental energy, physical energy -- all of these are taxed by being a teacher. From the outside, folks think we've got it made. "You only teach 4.5 hours a day...and get off work in the afternoon...and have evenings, weekends, holidays, and SUMMERS off -- with full pay. Sounds easy to me!"
The reality is that...if you do the job spend an inordinate amount of time getting ready for those 4.5 hours of student instruction (which cuts into those afternoons, evenings, and weekends). In addition, you spend a whole lot of time emotionally invested in your students and their successes and their issues...and trying to figure out how to help them. And...if you're interested in supporting the kiddos (and maybe building up some "collateral" with them) you make time to attend their games, concerts, performances, and fundraisers. Which also cuts into your "free time" well as your finances.
I would have a heckuva lot more dinero if I wasn't feeding the Bugg...and his brothers...and helping him out with incidental expenses here and there. But I know that my contributions are helping him in a super-tangible way...and eases some of the stress that he experiences about not being able to work a lot of hours because of his practice schedule.

3. The work of God will always produce an unpredictable response in people.

Over the past 4.5 years at Uberschool, I've been fortunate that most people have been very supportive of my efforts. They listen to me rant about the crazysquirrels...laugh at the funny stuff....encourage me when my heart hurts from all the disappointments...and have given me the encouragement to keep fighting the good fight. And it's not just lipservice -- I've had friends who have volunteered to help me out in my classroom, help grade papers, work track meets, attend football games/baseball games/gymnastics meets/talent shows, work concession stands, buy candles/roses/ name it. I am blessed.

Unfortunately, there have also been a few who don't 'get it'. They couldn't see past the fact that I didn't stick to the super-structured, purely legal, purely black & white, interpretation of what it means to be a teacher. Yes, I realize that the media is filled with stories about teachers who take advantage of their students...and engage in horribly inappropriate behaviors with those students. And, although I realize that it was out of concern for me...and because my friends wanted to make sure that I didn't become one of "those" still hurt to be judged so very harshly. People who know me...truly know me...know that that is not what I'm about. Or at least I would hope they do.

As painful as it was, that experience was invaluable because I learned how to tlisten to...and rely on...that voice inside of me that tells me what I'm supposed to be doing. Some people call it conscience, Covey calls it a moral compass. My mom says it's what being spirit-filled is all about...listening to the Spirit inside of you.

My mom's a pretty smart cookie, eh?