Many times have I walked into a new school year just hoping That Child was not on my roster.
Perhaps you know That Child.
The one who is rude, hateful, and unruly,
The one whose name is whispered behind closed doors,
The one whose odor is noticed by all who get too close,
The one who has issues with authority,
The one who never has a pencil or paper or book or homework,
The one who keeps falling asleep in class,
The one with no interest in learning.
Yet in my years of teaching I have been blessed to experience God’s transformation work in my heart. Thank God He loves me and That Child enough not to leave me where I was.
In His loving patience God has been my Teacher and has taught me so much about That Child …
For That Child who is unruly may not be loved enough at home to be disciplined
For That Child with the name people whisper is desperate for someone to notice and pay attention
For That Child who brings a stench from home lives in an environment that would break the hardest heart
For That Child with authority issues may have known abuse at the hands of an adult
For That Child with no pencil may be more focused on food than homework
For That Child who sleeps may have been up late caring for siblings
For That Child with no interest in learning who fails to see the potential and purpose God created within her
Lord, there are so many who bear the name That Child, desperate for love expressed in a smile, a free pencil, and an understanding heart.
God, prepare me for That Child.
When everything in me wants to frown in frustration, be the compassion that causes a smile to shine on my face.
When my patience wears thin, place gentle words on my tongue.
When my strength is fleeting, energize me to be your hands and feet.
When students come into my room, give me ears to hear their unspoken cries for help.
When encountering a child who is acting quite unlovely, pour an extra dose of love into my heart to drown out the irrtation rising up in me.
When my words do not lift up others, still my tongue.
When I get too focused on curriculum and rules, remind me my students are more important than test scores.
Season my words and actions with grace and mercy so That Child knows kindness and compassion in my classroom.
How foolish I once was for thinking teaching was a job… now I know differently. God has given me a mission in my school, a mission to shower love on every student who crosses my path.
As I walk into my classroom to begin another year, I will find on my roster a new crop of students and on my roll is That Child.
And That Child?
That Child needs someone to love him or her enough to make a difference.
Lord, let your love working through me make that difference. Amen