We love our children, but these jobs we chose – or that chose us – are hard. One thing I am consistently amazed and frenzied by is the expectations we face. I joked recently about how I was expected to fix a 16 year old’s /r/ without interrupting a single class, without parent support, and while attending to the needs and paperwork of the other 50 students on my multi-campus caseload – plus extraneous school duties. I was being cheeky. I was being negative. But the pressure of that expectation is all too real.
Here at the beginning, you’re expected to have an inviting and engaging classroom. To have stellar lesson plans. To know the health and contact information of each child. To remember which bus is which. From administrators to janitors and everyone in between, we’re all expected to have it together and with a smile on our face and pep in our step at all times.
If we let it, this is what floods our minds when that morning alarm beckons. So here, at the beginning, let’s try to flip the script. Our natural inclination at this time of year is to lament the end of summer and the stress of our jobs. In the book of Lamentations, we read:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore, I will hope in Him.”
Little is known about the life of Jeremiah. He was called to be a prophet of God before his birth. He witnesses King Josiah’s attempts to bring Judah back to the faith with hope, before the reforms were shattered by Josiah’s untimely death. He watched as Judah plunged back into pagan living and was called to preach to a people who had no love for his words and warnings. He witnessed the siege and destruction of Jerusalem and the collapse of Judah. Because of his warnings and his condemnation of sin, Jeremiah faced great persecution. These things he reflected upon as he wrote the book of Lamentations. He certainly had plenty of reasons to lament, to complain, to worry. But even as Jeremiah endured and remembered his many hardships, he was able to focus on the love and mercy of God, knowing that they did not fade, but rather renewed each and every dawn. He knew that the many promises of the Lord were true, put his faith in them, and went about the work God had set before him.
As teachers, we have been called to a difficult job. Many little hearts and minds are depending on us, not just to learn the necessary academic and life skills needed for success, but also for love, for patience, for understanding. Each year, I learn of a student of mine, current or former, whose life brings me to tears. Sometimes we are aware of our student’s struggles – sometimes we are not. Either way, their struggles become our struggles. Our strength, often, does not seem enough – because it is not. It was not Jeremiah’s own strength and fortitude that led him to relentlessly love a people who wanted nothing to do with him, but God’s strength and call on his life. So it is with us and that is a cause for celebration! Each morning when the dreaded alarm clock sounds, we can rest knowing that God has granted us the love and mercy and strength we need for the day.
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