I have started this post many times, so many times that I have multiple versions. There is so much on my mind that I want to say and I’m not really sure how to say it. I’m going to try to get each part down in small pieces to help with clarity, but beware this is not a fully processed thought.
This past month has been very trying as a teacher and not in the way that most people think. My students are great! They are doing well and I have enjoyed bringing this semester to an end and finishing strong. I am not stressed or feeling overworked or underappreciated. I’m not the best with adjectives, but the best way to describe how I am feeling is worn down, burdened, hurt, exhausted, yet encouraged, supported, and loved, all at the same time. So here is what happened:
I woke up one Saturday morning and received a text from a student saying that two of my students were in a fatal car accident the night before and one of their best friends did not make it. I can not begin to describe the immediate rush of emotions that came over me: heartbroken, despair, helpless, confused, angry, concern, and more. I broke down and lost it in my room alone. As I heard more I learned that my students were ok and I felt some relief. I immediately reached out to my community group for support. I went to a hospital to check on my students and was again relieved when I learned they were no longer there. The whole day I was trying to wrap my mind around what had happened. I was deeply concerned about my students and how they were doing. All I wanted to do was help, but I was so helpless, and there was nothing that I could do.
I didn’t know how to handle our first day back together as a class after the accident. I knew some of my students would be a wreck, while others would be ok (the school has 4,000 students). How do I handle this as a teacher? All of the students? The emotions? The questions? I knew I was not able to handle this on my own, not one bit. Thankfully, each day the Lord gave me the strength I needed and just enough to get through. I learned that feeling helpless was one of the best things because I had to rely on the Lord for everything and what He has to offer is better than anything I can offer. I learned to just be present with my students. I tried to be accommodating all the while helping them get back to their new “normal.” I by no means am here to boast about what I have done during this time, but I do want to boast in the power of the Lord to provide in each moment. He gave me the words to say to help my students and to show them that I care and that I can care for them and love them differently than others because I have Christ in me. I have heard from students that they knew they could come to me and they knew that I cared. I even had some great opportunities to share why I was able to love on them and care for them: Christ.
In this time I turned to the Lord in prayer and he provided. He also provided me with amazing support from my friends. I could feel the prayers as the Lord provided. I had friends that would just simply check in to see how I was doing and was feeling that day. My friends were just “with me” in what I was doing. Without this support and without my community to share the burdens that I was feeling I would not have been able to share the burdens of my students. I knew I could go to school each day and pour myself out to them and help them carry the weight because my community and the Lord himself would replenish me and give me just what I needed for each day. I was able to be “with” my students because I had people “with me” and most importantly God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit “with me.”
As I look back and look forward. I hope my students were able to experience a glimpse of the love that Christ has for them. I hope that people will continue to come into their lives and point them to Christ. If that is me I will jump for joy with the opportunity to share the Gospel with them, if it is not, I will jump for joy that the Gospel was shared with them. I do not know what will come and how much touch I will continue to have with my students as the semester is ending tomorrow and we will all have new classes. I do hope that I will still hear from my students. I have to say that is one of the hardest things for me as a teacher. Knowing that I might only be in their lives for a season and I am learning to embrace that and be content with that.
*This is only the first event, the second is to come next.