Sunday, February 28, 2010

poured out

school has been really rough this past week. i feel ready to give up.
because no matter what i do, how much i care or give or plan or mark or try, my kids hate me. they don't want to be in class and they don't want to learn.

i feel empty and pointless.

poured out.

imagine a crystal pitcher, filled with clear, sweet, ice-cold water. the sun sparkles through it, condensation slides down the side. everyone who drinks from the pitcher celebrates the goodness of the water, appreciates its coldness, its refreshment. if the water had any sensibility, it would know that it is valuable. its pouring out would be worthwhile, and it would rejoice to be spent.

when king david was fighting, three of his warriors risked their lives to get him a drink from the well he longed for, near bethlehem.

when they brought it to him, he would not drink it but poured it out on the ground.

i imagine that that water, soaking into the ground, would not sense itself to be appreciated, valuable, worthy ... no, not even useful. in fact, it could even understandably be bitter - pulled from the well where thirsty people greet it gladly - now, splashed into the mud, rejected, useless.

the king's perspective, of course, was entirely different. the water was too valuable for him to drink, it symbolized the blood spilled by his men who loved him and spent their lives recklessly for him.

sometimes, God uses us for things we understand. we know that we are valuable and He is using us, carrying us in His hand for a clear purpose. being poured out at these times is a bright joy, a privilege, a higher calling. we rejoice to suffer, to be spent, to endure.

sometimes, though, it just seems pointless. we can't see God, and there seems to be no way He could be planning this murky pouring-out. we are spent, but there seems to be no gain on the other side. we are always losing, and for what benefit?

"Measure thy life by loss instead of gain;
Not by the wine drunk but by the wine poured out." - Ugo Bassi

we have no hope but this ... that our pouring out is an echo of His pouring out; our hearts, being broken, are being broken like His; our lives can be recklessly abandoned, as His was so freely given.

and He will keep pouring us out. our lives are not ours so we can be valued and appreciated.

our lives are His to pour out.

so what does this mean, to me, struggling and sick of my students and all their angst? where is God in my high school, what is His plan?

His plan has always been to make me more like Jesus. i am experiencing brokenness, i am enduring humility, i am increasingly helpless. my own strength was spent long ago, and i am running on empty. and if i am measuring my life by loss instead of gain ... there is at least something to measure. i have lost my preconceptions of myself as a good teacher. i have lost my complacency about classroom management. i have lost full nights of sleep. i have lost time spent with patrick. i have lost any sense of why i thought i would ever be any good at this in the first place.

i am being poured out.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

New Semester

Today is the first day of the semester. I loved getting to know my new students - learning their names, and getting to know a little bit about them.
In one class, we made a talent chain: every student listed a talent on a piece of colored paper and we created a paper chain.
I was totally surprised by the talents in this class.
Languages people can speak: Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, French
Instruments people can play: trombone, trumpet, drums, bagpipes (bagpipes?!), saxophone, piano, guitar ... I think a jam session should be an optional assignment :).
Other interesting talents - eyebrow plucking, reading aloud, writing poetry, selecting good music, synchronized swimming, car repair, spelling ...
These kids are awesome.

One thing that saddened me today was an unprovoked expression of hatred for a group of people. How to deal with that? I don't know.

I'm thinking of Erin Gruwell and the Freedom Writers, who learned about hatred and intolerance by reading about the holocaust. This helped them to see that hatred of groups is irrational and harmful.

Perhaps I will do The Chrysalids with this class. It talks about Tolerance and Communication. There is a lot to pull out of it.

Anyway, overall - an awesome day. My students are funny, smart, creative, and talented. I'll have to do a lot to challenge and channel that potential.