Monday, April 11, 2011
thoughts from a full heart
I was so excited to visit my old school with Moriah this morning! We enjoyed seeing lots of my former co-workers, who in many ways truly became a "second family" of sorts during our first two years in Louisville when everything was new to us. I also enjoyed talking with some of my former students, only the former kindergarteners who were in lunch... the former third graders were still in class, busily preparing for state testing next week so we didn't want to interrupt their hard work! As I talked with my old students who seem SO big as first graders now my heart swelled for lots of reasons. Some of my sweetest girls were still as sweet as ever and couldn't believe I remembered their names - how could I forget them?! Some of the little boys blushed to see me dote on them again. One little guy kept saying (in very clear English which was amazing after starting Kindergarten with none), "It looks like Mrs. Peery", to his astonishment I looked at him and said "Because I AM Mrs. Peery!" He jumped up and shouted "I told you!" to a near by friend :) One little boy had made his way back from a leave of absence which took him home to Iraq. Their faces and smiles made me beam, and flooded my mind with memories of sweet days and challenges I faced as well.
And two little boys made my heart melt... one little guy has suffered much as a six year old. He has a large family full of brothers (I think maybe 8, but can't quite remember) who range from my age (mid-20's) all the way down to his. One brother is confined to a wheelchair after a terrible house fire years ago which left his body severely burned and permanently disabled in many ways. Their mom who did all she could to care for them, passed away over Christmas break after a long battle with cancer. I spoke with her often last year about this little guy and his struggles to learn, though he had such a sweet and very kind spirit. She gave everything she had to help him in spite of her difficulties and illness. Now as he told me today, "Mrs. Peery my mom died." When I told him that I knew and was sorry, I also told him I know he must be very sad. He replied, "My cat died too." I really wanted to pick him up in my free arm (as I was holding Moriah) and take him home to live with me forever. It's just not that simple, and not possible of course. Another little guy who I grew to love last year after some difficult days involving extreme profanities uttered from a lisping five year old's mouth, was upset today. He had a very grumpy face that I couldn't encourage in spite of my attempts. I found out dad recently moved out of his parents house where this little guy and his brothers had been living with some stability. This dad is trying very hard and is also doing all he can with all he has (their mom left a long time ago and has only been around sporadically though she lives in town). The last time the dad was at school, I was told he cried not knowing what else he could do for an older son who has refused any school work for the last eight weeks. Really... think about that, all day in school, walking in the halls or sitting outside the door because he won't work. Many people have been involved in his life, rewards have been offered no doubt, consequences have been administered, but to a child who doesn't care for one reason or another no one can force productivity.
So as I left, as quickly as I came, I felt a wave of emotion. Guilt in some ways that I could come and go at my free will... I'm not living in those hard times like the little children are, and I'm not teaching among them trying to lighten their loads day in and day out like many friends still are. This has been a sweet sweet season for me as the Lord has blessed me with much... very calm days at work in comparison, only one bright bright child to "teach" as we play, and a sweet baby girl who I can care for all day long myself. I know that this is good and this is where the Lord has sovereignly placed me now, but stepping back for a bit was more gut wrenching in many ways than I'd expected. I was asked, "So, do you miss it?" and "Are you coming back to teach again?" I do miss things sometimes, and of course I don't miss other things. I'm not going back to teach now, or in the very near future as far as I can anticipate. The Lord is calling me to my home and my family... and that is sweet, but hard as I consider the weight of that world. Because who is going to those children? Who is serving among those families? How can I turn away and leave so conveniently? Have I betrayed them? Am I living hypocritically after "preaching" for so long that these are the forgotten places which we can't abandon? I trust the Lord... He knows my heart, and it is full as I read, play, and giggle with Moriah while those little faces are fresh in my mind and still struggling. This is significant now, it wouldn't be any better or easier to leave my own family in a sense to continue working in a way that is the most draining and taxing work imaginable. The answer isn't that simple. The Lord knows the tension, but He is in control and I am thankful.
So, if you're there like many of my dearest friends are, teaching in hard places, take heart. Today is probably feeling daunting to you for many legitimate reasons. But the Lord is carrying you, He is ministering to those little (and big) ones through you as long as you look to Him and proclaim His name in every way you're able. He is working, and your role in that is not in vain. As hard as it may be to believe, someday you may leave... He may give you a new place of ministry (perhaps one you've always dreamed of!), but even then you'll think of times past and wonder how those little ones are doing, and you might wonder how you let it go so quickly. And if you're like me, you'll be trusting God and hoping that you spent yourself as much as you could've and as much as you should've. Let Him sustain you each day, and give Him all praise.
who couldn't smile at these sweet little guys, and their song...