One of the best benefits of having nearly 200 young people observe you day and day out, is that you are watched. Everything from mannerisms and inflections, to idiosyncrasies and tendencies…it all is out there to be seen.
I often times think the students don’t even realize how perceptive they are. After all, if you showed up every night to the ballpark and hit a home-run at some point during the game, sure the blistering pace of a jack-every-game would be amazing…but eventually, you would come to expect it and simply chalk it in with the other routine, all-be-it awesome, things that mark your day’s effort. These kids have learned aspects of me that others will never know, simply because they have stayed put long enough (sometimes against their will) to notice me.
That said, I have to take with a grain of salt the things that are said sometimes. I have wonderful students. And not in that cliche, Oh-my-students-are-wonderful, kind of way either. I mean it. I have some really wonderful students. However, many of them at this Christian school, go home and see nothing of Christ. In more than cases than I wish were the case, they go home and find abuse, fighting, disarray, etc. to be the norm.
So, when someone fires out in class about how life sucks, and this class sucks, on the heels of a half-dozen people interrupting class to thank me for how it’s been going…I tend to assume there is always room for truth to be in what they are saying…but I’m probably just being served from the overflow of their frustrations with life outside of school.
But still…some of my almost 18 year-old watchers make some pretty simple, piercing truths, and then I get to praying and thinking about where the truth in those words is to be found.
Today, such an amalgam betwixt my faith gates and barged in with only moments between their very different takes on things.
‘ Mr. Gunter…you seem like you would make a good Father. After all, you take care of me whenever I am really hurting, or confused. My parents don’t even do that. And you don’t band-aid it…you help get me healthy. It’s like this class…I might not always be the best student in here, but you try, and when I listen, I learn about God and how to live. ‘
You are very disorganized Mr. G. I mean, look at how sometimes the floors in your room get so dirty from kids throwing paper down during and after class. And when you try and plan stuff for us to go on a Mission’s trip, you tried to throw something together so last minute that it was never gonna work. I know you only mentioned it that late, b/c the opportunity came at the last minute, but it’s just very disorganized (another scowl at the paper-dotted floor). ‘
Both of these students are wonderul…two of my favorites for sure. And yet, look at how both spoke loudly from opposite ends of the observation room… almost as if they were trying to communicate loud enough to leave something visible on the walls of the classroom…in hopes the other one might read it. In either case, I want to be “all thing to all people,” and while I never take the scripture to mean, flail in the wind hopelessly trying to please everyone (for I know that successful spitting of the Truth of Christ will mean I get some people upset at me)…I do want to be refine myself as much as possible, here, now.
I have had a handful of people who I could have learned from a great deal during my life. I am fading from learning from one main one right now because our schedules are not matching up well (both an excuse and true) while a good many of the others before him flared strong like a wildfire, only to crackle and pop in the distance all too soon. I let my Scotland buddy slip through my faith and arms. I allowed my old Pastor, who was very busy, to go the same… not sought after nearly as much as I should and could have given. And so many others slip away with stories and endings that are only distinguishable by the different faces they began with. Oh how I long to break that pattern of not tapping into people the way God intended me to. To see them as a gift; To serve and gleaned from.
And now I find myself with almost 200 watchers…whether they realize it or not, ready to unload simple truth that could rock my perceptions forever. I don’t expect them to be epic or more than they are in that way. I simply expect them to be open and honest and even a little fiery, like a good normal teenager should be.
It is in this way that I will leave my days, prayerfully every one of them, stronger in Love and God, and more considerate of who I am and am becoming. I am fearfully and wonderfully made sure enough, but I am also growing dangerous to my God or those who stand against Him with everything I allow, and don’t allow to sink in and lead my life. Direction and movement is not the problem…it’s to where are we moving, and to whom are we giving ourselves to.
So, in this way I make war for God, especially by fighting the Civil War within. Purging myself of my old self, pummeling my body and Spirit into alignment with God’s plan and will for all things good and right (1st Cor.). This includes becoming organized, gathering and harnessing respect for a clean floor in my classroom…and…keep being the best spiritual Father figure I can be to all these kids that do not have such a Love tossed their way.