I am a teacher.
Most of the time, this means that I read beautiful children’s stories, wipe teary eyes when someone falls on the playground, and pin artwork up on our artist’s board that all look the same: a small child, a teacher with a huge ponytail and the words, I love you Mrs. D.
But some days do not look like this.
Some days are like the Friday I had this past week. I was sick, half of my students had runny noses and coughs and every single one complained about a headache/stomachache/itchy spot or boo-boo they had. I applied a dozen bandaids and listened to complaints with growing impatience all day. The day seemed endless, the long hours between lunch and the dismissal bell crawling. My students were tired and fractious and I did not have the energy to combat all the tension. And so, instead of stepping back and breathing through the frustration, I took away their Friday recess and we did another worksheet instead. Instead of giving us all a break, I handed out a punishment instead. I did not show grace to those precious little souls in my care—who were just as tired as I was at the end of a long week full of requirements made by people who do not educate children, or have children, or possibly (in the case of test-writers) have never even seen a child.
Life is a lot like a classroom full of children.
We are put on this earth with a lot of other people we don’t know or don’t want to know, and we often fight and squabble. We have so much to learn, but some days the lessons are too long, too difficult, and we lay our heads and our hearts down and give up. The hours between our work and our rest are sometimes endless, and some days the rest never seems to come; or, when it does, it is too short to give any peace to our aching hearts. We are pressured from employers, neighbors, friends, or family to be to be strong and untiring. But we are not robots; just like my children, we are not built to run for long marathons of work and turmoil with no rest.
But here is the good part.
Unlike my sweet students who have a teacher who can be less than graceful some days, our Teacher is endlessly graceful and patient and wise. He is there when you draw the colorful pictures that say, “I love you, Jesus,” but he is also there when you are exhausted and angry and tired and all you can say is, “Why?” Why now, why this lesson, this difficulty, this pain? This is not to say that it immediately goes away – even on my good days as a teacher I can’t take away all the tests and struggles my students face – but it does mean that we have someone there to wipe our teary eyes and provide the rest our souls need while we sit with the struggles of life.
I do not have the answers to all of this. I promise you that most days I feel more anger and frustration than peace with this Jesus life. At no point, though, do I think we all have to have everything in our faith figured out or feel perfect peace at every moment to be Christians. Our Teacher is still there, bandaid in hand, armed with infinite grace and perfect love.