It’s one of those unfortunate by-products of loving my job.
Let me explain: I work with people.
Some people I see on a regular basis. We share a workspace, a mission, perhaps a love of literature and the need to pay the mortgage. Other people I see only once. They kind of just swoop in for a moment, get what they need, and move on.
But the most important people that I see hang around for a few months. If I try real hard I learn their names. I see them twice a week for a couple of hours, and in that time I have to be many things. Too often, all at once. You’d think that being a teacher would top the list, but most days I’m busy just treading water.
It makes me crazy.
Sometimes it makes me angry.
Most of the time it makes me happy. I like people. Ha. When I don’t dislike them. That’s the problem. You see, I’m human. A bit snarky. Impatient when I’m not being patient. And unequivocally a sinner. I forget that when I am in the midst of my own self-righteous meltdowns.
I tend to feel hopeless in a mission that I sometimes resent, and often second guess my effectiveness and ability to promote positive change. Lucky for me I have family and friends with the uncanny ability to talk me off the ledge, challenge me, and make me think.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,through whom we have gained access (by faith) to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God.Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance,and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope,and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5
I am reminded of the reasons why I continue to get up and go to work in a profession that is so often maligned. Endurance. Persistence. Hope. That’s the crux of it. When everything is stripped away, the politics, the bureaucracy, the endless grading, what’s left is the backbone of what I do everyday: inspire hope.
On rare occasions I am the one inspired and it makes all the difference.
Today I had a student come to see me because she didn’t understand an assignment. It’s Maya Angelou’s poem, “Still I Rise.”
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
There’s more, but you get the idea. It spoke to me, but more importantly, it spoke to my student. She couldn’t figure out what the poem was about. I suspect she just didn’t read it carefully, so I told her to get up and close the door to my office and perform the poem for me. She looked at me like I was nuts, and well, I am, so what else is new?
She started off a little weak, a little shy, but I joined her and helped a little. Before long we were slinging attitude and raising our voices in a joyful triumph. It turned my attitude around and gave me a much-needed lift, like the speaker in the poem.
In spite of the random challenges of my job, “like air, I’ll rise.”