I am not a humble person by nature. I have deep, sinful, pride that seeps out of every part of me. Pride that is jerky. Pride that is hateful. Pride that is sarcastic-- and not a funny, playful sarcasm that I appreciate… sarcasm that is meant to embarrass. I hate this about me. I hate that I get so angry and lose my cool.
I also hate being wrong. I hate having to apologize for my mistakes. It is hard for me to do. This goes back to my pride issue I just talked about. This is my temporal earthly exterior that is fighting with the goodness of the Gospel that has awakened this dead heart. I am in a constant battle between my comfort and my will. I try, earnestly, to portray Jesus in all that I do. I desire to point others to Him with my actions, words, and choices. Yesterday, however, I did not do that.
Anyone that knows me, knows this has been a very difficult year teaching for me. I have had a really hard time enjoying it. It isn't only the kids. A HUGE part of it, I truly believe, is my heart in it. I am a sinful, prideful person that wants my way to be the right way. Yesterday…. I saw that in getting my way, I may hurt others in the process.
Setting: My classroom
I had been monitoring the STAAR test a couple days so I had been out-- we finished all of the weather activities that were planned for the week so at the very end of the day, because it had been raining all day and because my kids had followed directions and been good for the sub, I decided to "graciously" allow them to watch an instructional film over weather. They enjoyed it…. until the end.
Student A: "Miss Dannnnniell…. why didn't we do Flashlight Friday today?"
Me: "Because we ran out of time… watch this film… it's really good!"
Student B (5 minutes later): "Miss Dannnnnniell…. what are we going to do after this?"
Me (pausing the film): "Guys-- there is just a little bit left in this and then we will move on. This is a privilege… pay attention to it, please. I have something we are going to do after this but you need to listen to this first so the activity can be done! Listen!"
:: At this point my blood pressure is beginning to rise. I was GENEROUS enough to allow them to watch this video. My OTHER classes always enjoyed watching this. Why can THEY not sit and be quiet?::
End of the film.
Student B (again): "Miss Dannnnnniell (they always drag out my name-- haha I don't know why)? Why couldn't we go out to recess? I just went to the bathroom and saw 5th grade on the concrete… (and here comes the words that turn Miss Daniell into the raging Hulk…) IT'S NOT FAIR!!"
Well…. let's just say that our class had another (we've had a few) come to Jesus talks. We talked about being respectful. We talked about being thankful. We talked about being ungrateful. I mentioned it wasn't everyone-- but enough to make it seem like everyone. The kids sat. They listened (better than they've ever listened before). And they were silent. I thought-- "Yes-- maybe I got to them. Maybe NOW they will understand." Then-- the climatic part of the story occurred. One of the sweetest children in my class-- who rarely gets in trouble, is always joyful and helpful and smiling-- came up to me. She shyly says, "Miss Daniell? I wish we didn't treat you so disrespectfully." And turned around fast. I didn't hear her at first and said, "What?" She turned back around… lip and voice trembling… and said, "I'm sorry our class isn't better."
This kicked me in the throat. I said, "Baby-- thank you. But you don't need to apologize." She tightly hugged me and began sobbing. I broke. My hard exterior shattered and I began crying. What was I doing? Who had I become? I let my comfort and pride become so inflated that I had caused a child to sob-- for no reason. She hadn't made a bad choice. She hadn't caused pain to another child. She hadn't deserved to be reprimanded. And one of the sweetest girls in my class was broken… because of me. The one who should provide affirmation and encouragement. The one that should provide guidance and wisdom. The one who should provide the feeling of love and safety…. had failed. Big time.
I took her out in the hall and apologized. I reminded her of my love for her. I said I was sorry for hurting her feelings. I hugged her and tried to restore the pain I had caused. After about 5 minutes she calmed down and said she was better. I even ran to catch up with her before she got on the school bus and hugged her again said "Love ya-- have a great weekend!" I called her mom and told her what happened. I apologized to her. I thought-- "you are good, Steph! You have faced your sins and asked for forgiveness." But then as I laid down for bed last night and the events of the day replayed in my head… I again, was broken. I sobbed. I prayed. I was so distraught about what I had done and become this year. And I knew what I had to do. On Monday, before we start our rotations, before we split up into reading groups, before I present the spelling and sight words… I have to apologize. I have to stand before my children and ask for their forgiveness. It sounds silly-- but it has to be done. How can I expect to lead these children the next 6 weeks and pour into them if they are hurt or feel scared? I have to show them what it looks like to humble myself and ask for forgiveness. It may be hard-- I may cry. But it must be done.
I share this with y'all to show that we as teachers, or parents, or friends, or human beings can so easily get wrapped up in our own selves that we can forget about the damage it can have on one another. I hate being wrong. I hate apologizing. But above my happiness and comfort-- I want to be sanctified. I want to be humbled. I want to take up my cross DAILY and love others like Jesus. I don't want to be someone who is hateful and tears others down-- but rather someone who reflects Jesus and builds others up. I will fail many more times… probably even this week. But-- I pray that the Lord continues pressing on my heart and burdening me to become less so that He may become more. I must decrease, so He can increase.