I’m a first year teacher and there is an immense sense of victory I have coming to the end of my first year. It has been a long, challenging, and nonetheless awesome year. While I’m paid to do the teaching, I must admit that I did quite a bit of learning. And despite the ‘separation’ of church and state, many of those lessons where biblical truths, teaching me more about myself, my faith, and leading me closer to the heart of God.
Lesson One: Tough Love
“You know I’ll always love you but right now I just don’t like you..”
–Which To Bury; Us Or The Hatchet, Relient K
I love my students. I love getting to know them. I love when they run into my room and start talking about science. I love watching them help each other. I love getting to be part of the moment when they finally “get it”.
But if I’m being honest: I don’t always like my students very much.
They are not always easy to handle. They sometimes disrespect me, don’t feel like working, don’t do their homework, don’t want to be in my class, and sometimes they just don’t like me.
But there is an overwhelming certainty even when things are hard: I love my students.
I’m reminded of God’s commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31). If a neighbor is a person who is in your immediate surroundings that you “do life” with, aren’t my students really just neighbors?
Here’s where I get stuck: how on Earth do I love someone who I really don’t even like sometimes? In John 12, God gives us instruction on how to love each other.
As I have loved you. This is the most difficult, beautiful, arduous task God could possibly give a broken, sinful, selfish, prideful gal like me! I mean, think for a moment about how He has loved us. He made us, gave us everything, and set our lives in motion. We disobeyed Him. He then continued to love us, correct us, send His Son to die on a cross to bear the weight of our sins, and through grace, offers us eternal life. And we are supposed to love people who are hard to like that way. Whoah.
So how do we do that? I think there are a few simple ways we can try to emulate the love the Father has shown us.
1) Pray for your neighbors.
First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone. (1 Timothy 2:1)
2) Forgive your neighbors.
…accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. (Colossians 3:13)
3) Serve your neighbors.
and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:44-45)
And when all three of those seem difficult to do, remember that you do in fact love them and that God loves them. Its not always going to be easy, and its going to take practice, but it always feels better when we are living a life that brings glory to God.
Father God, You are so patient with us. Help us to remember your graciousness toward us and extend that same grace to those in our lives. Help us to love with Your love and see others as you see them. It is Your will for us that we love one another. Help us to live within Your will. In your name, Amen.