Do you ever wonder if the work you're doing is meaningful? For me the question comes up all too often. It is easy to get lost in the monotony of grading papers, sending emails, and reminding kids, to "please get on task," again, and to forget the purpose of it all. So much work goes into what I do every day. I am pouring my heart and soul into this. But is it worthwhile? Teaching kids to find characters' different Points-of-View. Helping them to memorize new words. Making sure they are able to tell a good story. Does any of it matter in the end?
A couple of weeks ago, I bought myself a bracelet that reads "I loved you at your darkest," as a reminder of how Jesus feels about me.
The typical response I get when I tell someone I teach Middle School is, "Oh. I can't imagine doing that." In some ways Middle Schoolers are delightful. I enjoy them every day. They are old enough to not need me to wipe their noses, but young enough that they get excited when I bring out a game or put on some Disney music. But in many ways, my students are at their darkest. Their little awkward bodies are changing. Did you know that Middle School boys have 1000x more testosterone running through them than adult males? The world around them is constantly shifting. Their lives are controlled by teachers, parents, more dominant peers. They are questioning who they are. They are wondering if they are loved. Sometimes the way that comes out is making jokes at each others' expense--talking someone else down in a desperate attempt to build themselves up. That often means that they forget nearly everything. They throw things. They make messes. This can be frustrating when you are the one who cleans up after them. They have the immaturity of children, and the angst of teenagers. Being patient, kind, and gentle with them is a choice I have to make over and over again throughout the day.
Looking at my bracelet I am reminded that I am doing important work. I am doing the--sometimes exhausting--work of loving people at their darkest.