It’s 12:52am. I made a critical error this afternoon and fell asleep after school with no alarm set to end the [much needed] nap. So at 9pm when I woke up, I realized I was in big trouble. And this is what big trouble looks like. Being bright eyed and bushy tailed at 1am. But it looks like an actual blog will come of it. Or a semblance of a blog. We’ll see. My friend Justin wrote a very interesting blog earlier this week. And it is a subject that is very near and dear to my heart. The power of words and the importance of using them wisely.
As a teacher, I spend my day with a lot of children. And these children talk a lot. I mean, A LOT. And I get quickly annoyed. In fact, today I was sitting at my desk, head in hands, saying, “Please. Just do what I ask. Sit down. Pack your book bags. Be quiet. Come on guys.” How many people in the room were actually listening? Oh, none. I take that back. ONE. Which one? The MOM standing at my door to pick up her little precious. Fantastic.
So many times I want to LOSE IT. Like, really. In a deep and meaningful way. YELL my head off until they realize that they have pushed me about 6 inches past my limits. Because they have. No one can push me to the edge like a group of children who don’t follow directions.
Early in my teaching career I learned this- sometimes in those moments, I need to just shut up. Because when I say something out of anger, the kid goes home, and I go home …. and I worry all night long- “If something happens to me before school tomorrow, does that child KNOW that I love them?” It’s hard to wonder if something you said made a permanent and painful mark on someone’s heart.
There are not many things in this world that are more powerful than words. Maybe the writer and constant talker in me is biased, but that is the truth as I see it. Good words can heal deep wounds. Unkind words can cut them open. So, I try, ATTEMPT, to not say the ugly out- of- pure- frustration comment or use a frustrated tone. I often fail. Obviously. Or this wouldn’t be a lesson I had learned (and continue to learn). But God has flooded these situations with His grace. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve said something and then hung my head immediately. In my mind, I say, “Oh God, I’m sorry. Give me Your words for this kid.” And He does.
Because I’m His ambassador. He would MUCH rather I use His words than my own. I don’t take for granted the idea that I may be the ONLY Christian in these children’s lives. I may be the ONLY voice in their lives that speaks genuine LOVE and TRUTH and ENCOURAGEMENT. But, knowing all of this, knowing that God placed these lives in my hands for 180 days- these things don’t make me Super Christian!, local perfect behaving heroine. I’m just grateful that when my tongue runs faster than my good sense, His grace is sufficient. There are days now, in my 5th year of this, after 700+ days total, where I go home mad at myself for something I said. But that’s life. That’s why God made candy. A hug, an apology, and a piece of candy- the terrific trio.
The song “Legacy” by Nichole Nordeman is kind of my teaching theme song. I think these words a lot and it has definitely tamed my tongue more than once. It has also made me braver than I ever thought I could be about my faith in the classroom. Here are the lyrics to the chorus:
I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me? Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who blessed Your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy
Someday, I want my children to make this connection- Ms. Downs really loved me. Ms. Downs went to church. I wonder if she loved me because of God loves her. I wonder if God loves me.
And there is the mark I want to leave. A desire to know God’s love. So I hold my tongue. I breathe before I speak. I ask their forgiveness when I speak unkindly. I hug my kids and tell them everyday that I love them.
So, Justin, there’s my take on it. Do your best to speak life as much as possible. Accept His grace when you don’t. Speak love in their hearts, and believe that someday it will be the string that pulls them to God.