Gladden the soul of Your servant, for to You, O LORD, I lift up my soul. Psalm 86:4
They hem me in, they hem me in on every side; in the name of the LORD I will repel them. They swarm about me like bees; they blaze like a fire of thorns; in the name of the LORD I will repel them. I was pressed so hard that I almost fell, but the LORD came to my help. The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. There is a sound of exultation and victory in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the LORD has triumphed! the right hand of the LORD is exalted! the right hand of the LORD has triumphed!” Psalm 118:12–16
And yesterday was rough.
But every time scary Mr. B sticks his head into the vibrating classroom and asks, “So who is giving you trouble, Mrs. Voelkel,” I can never name one or two students to be offered up on the sacrificial altar of In-School Suspension. Man, I look around the classroom and I love each one of them.
Even the three girls who stood up and shouted the Nigga Pledge of Allegiance during first period opening. They seemed hapless rather than malevolent. But I still turned in their names and lyrics sheet into the office. With yet another referral. And a hopefully positive little chat during lunch about choices and consequences.
My kiddos are not the enemy.
But yesterday sure felt just like an angry beehive. Fire of thorns? Spot on description.
And I know in my head everything I need to do as their teacher, to pull things together. It is not for lack of creativity or preparation or knowledge of classroom management principles. Yes, I have read Harry Wong’s First Day of School again and again. And the line that always makes me humble but slightly crabby is “At the end of the day, the students should be tired, not the teacher.”
There is something more at work here. A brokenness and fear and pain and uncertainty that can trigger chaos on a hair’s breadth.
But He is the One Who Restores. And I am reminded of that as I wander through the desert and watch literally hundreds of birds prepare for the promised rain.
And who knew? A mother dove will welcome her fledgling back to the nest even after he has spent two days in a shoe box filled with cotton balls and straw stashed being fed moths and grasshoppers smooshed up in an eye dropper by anxious sixth graders. The monitor said I could lose my job if They caught me with a bird in the top desk drawer. Who knew?
So I head off today with an updated PowerPoint and a quiz and an theoretically fun activity and a box of eegees for period six who helped with campus cleanup yesterday.
And my prayer remains the same, may there be a light of gladness in my eyes because I am in His presence, His living water bubbling over.
One cup at a time.