Most of the adults around me love young people, one doesn’t teach them in a “private Christian school,” read for nearly no money, and not love them. We’ve had a tough go at school of late: several students got caught with drugs, ones we have long loved and begged God to help sort through all they battle, ones who we never suspected but who fooled us and ones who were doing so much better than they themselves admitted they had been before. It broke our hearts to have to send them away for the balance of the year. Broke our hearts. I don’t know if they each know that. I want them to.
Within the next week, we had three serious accidents involving our students and/or their families…We were shaken and this mama who might have let her first-born drive a little prematurely, license wise, might have forbade him to go anywhere on this last week’s wet roads.
Today, the students were gathered up for us to pray over them…We gave them a lot of theology that was iffy, that flowed from a good heart. We focused our frustration on the devil…if feels good to focus. But, the reality is…life is iffy. We don’t always know and we can’t control and every day is a risk, and as such, a gift.
That’s what I think we needed to share with them this morning. It’s what we all need to hear: “Life is iffy; you are a gift; I don’t want to lose you; I couldn’t bear it. Help me with that, any way you can. Help me. It will break me in two to lose you…in my classroom or on this earth.”
I walked back into my room of cast-off math students, upon whose raft I jumped when they were cast from the boat in the raging sea of Geometry, to say, “I want you …in your greatest weakness, I want you.” I saw their kinda less than impressed with Jesus music and we are praying for you and we have to pull together against a common enemy ( to save our school – implied) stuff. They looked at me with clear eyes – saying plainly to my ears which I have dedicated to hearing them more than saying what comes easy for me, Why are you all so afraid to be real?
I met their eyes individually and said, “We are trying to say, ‘We love you’… Sorry.”
They, too often the wiser in the room, nodded and smiled softly.
“I love you,” I continued to each set of eyes. “Do you know that?” my voice broke as I watched their eyes carefully. The first did, know, he promised me he did. Our eyes meet a great deal in silent despair over what could be. The second would not look at me, much work to do there. The third, The Child I Love, let me rest my cheek against her temple and cry. I was the one hugging her as she sat before me in her desk, ably extracting metaphors from Gatsby. But, even as she was in my grasp, I was the one comforted by her assurance that she well knew of my love.
I think we make it hard, try to relate to them through unnecessary hoops, give them too little credit. We’ve all felt so many of the same things these last few days. Things I hear the students saying to one another, sometimes to me. All we have to do is say those things we feel ourselves, aloud, to them. All we have to do is to voice those things and let our brokenness and love be apparent. Then, I think, love will flow between us.
Love is our greatest and only defense in this life, it is all that holds.