Monday, May 21, 2018

I Am So, So Angry

Forgive me, I am heartbroken. I am nauseous. Dumbfounded.

When I was a little girl, my mom worked for the public school system. Some days were especially hard on her heart and she would come home saying, “I wish I could just take them all home. I really love them like my own.” She would tell me stories about how much one little girl needed a good bath, or one little boy could use a big, hot plate of spaghetti. And since when you’re little you tend to take things literally, I half-expected her students to walk in the front door with her on any given afternoon, and I wondered what it would be like to have them all running around my house, eating my homemade spaghetti and playing with my bath toys.

As I grew and began to better understand her desire to take care of her students, I started to admire her for that kind of love. I always assumed it was special and specific just to her, but it turns out it isn’t. My mother is an extremely generous and loving woman, but now that I’m a teacher myself I’ve grown to realize that kind of love was more than a personality trait unique to her, it didn’t come to her by chance or by accident, and it was more than just the way her mother raised her. It was a calling. When God calls us to become teachers, when He invites us to guide, protect, and lead His young, He equips our hearts for it with that selfless, genuine Big Love in a way that is supernatural. I saw it in my mother, I’ve seen it in my friends and colleagues, and I am honored that I now get to feel it each day I go to work.

There isn’t a teacher I know that isn’t wearing too many hats or doesn’t have too many balls and plates (balls AND plates, simultaneously) in the air. It’s an exhausting job. Exhausting physically, emotionally and mentally. No day, class, or task is the same, and just as soon as you feel like you’ve figured something out, someone changes the protocol and you have to start all over again.

It’s no secret, we are overworked and underpaid, but even so, we love our jobs. Why? Who would stay in a career that nearly drowns you, rings you out, and hangs you out to dry just to dunk you again? It’s because one crucial thing remains constant in this world: Children need to be heard and loved. The reason we teachers sacrifice sleep, sanity, financial gain, and time to ourselves is simply that these young souls need us. They need us in a way that has been divinely conceived by The Creator of the Universe. And we need them. You can be sure it is no accident or coincidence we teach where we teach. God knew these very souls would need us, so He placed us exactly in the right place, at the right time, and built in us the right hearts to help grow and nurture them.

It doesn’t matter what their family’s financial status is, if their parents are married or divorced, if they are four, ten or seventeen-years-old. Each day -- every single day -- children need to be heard and loved. And so off we go. It drains us, we are tired, we know we deserve more money and recognition, and yet we go. It’s not a job, it’s a calling. And because our hearts are made this specific way, there’s nothing else that fills it like hearing a child speak their truth, loving them genuinely for who they are, and giving them the freedom to mess up and come back to opened arms. That is what gives teachers peace at the end of their day.

We do it because we love those kids. WE LOVE THEM. We’ve been their cheerleaders as they accomplished great academic, athletic, and artistic victories. We’ve been their counselors and held their hands in our hands, as they cried over their first heartbreak. We’ve been their safe haven and let them sit quietly in our classrooms on our lunch breaks because we know they need space, and a quiet place to eat that day. We’ve sat and listened as they tell us they were diagnosed with OCD, ADHD, Tourettes, and depression. We’ve accepted them as they tearfully or gleefully came out of the closet, and we’ve made sure to tell them “I love you,” each day, each and every day, because we know it could be the only time that day they hear those three words.

I don’t think I’m special; I don’t need a medal. I’m telling you this because what I know for sure about most teachers is that this kind of Big Love Behavior is all in a day's work. And in my opinion, it’s not about what we signed up for: It is what God has called us to and equipped us for. Listen, maybe this sounds dramatic -- so be it -- but I believe the amount of love and respect held in the average teacher’s heart is nothing short of miraculous.

So forgive me if you see me these days and “something looks off.” Forgive me if I’m not my normal upbeat, joyful self.  I am heartbroken and I am nauseous. I am dumbfounded over the words ‘casualties’ and ‘fatalities’ that keep showing up on my computer and television screen. I’m terrified about our future. In the same halls and classrooms that we teachers spend our lives making safe, the same halls where my mother fretted over kids who could use a warm bath and a hot meal, our children are being slaughtered. Our children who are just beginning to discover their potential. Our children who are stumbling upon love for the first time. Our bright, passionate children -- who are dreaming about becoming scientists, artists, entrepreneurs and kick-ass full-time moms -- are being gunned down, robbed of their future, and discarded by the end of a news cycle.

I am so, so angry, and if I cannot protect these children with my body, I will use my voice so we don’t forget...

Preston Cope
Jaime Guttenberg
Joaquin Oliver
Meadow Pollack
Alaina Petty
Jared Black
Christian Garcia

In 2018 alone, more people have been killed at schools than have been killed while serving in the military, and it’s only May.


I Am So, So Angry

Forgive me, I am heartbroken. I am nauseous. Dumbfounded. When I was a little girl, my mom worked for the public school system. Some d...