Thursday, September 5, 2013

Choose Joy

Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, 
"Now, I have put my words in your mouth." 
Jeremiah 1:9

It's taken a long, long time for me to accept a label.  Pigeon-holing is not one of my strengths - not for myself and not for anyone else.  I see too many grays.

I remember going through a somewhat painful exercise with a boyfriend years ago.  He'd just come out of a series of workshops about relationship and he had a book.  He had me read a chapter, a chapter that analyzed and then categorized different 'types' of people according to how they acted and re-acted in relationship.  I really liked this guy and I wanted to please him very badly.  But I saw a lot of cross-categories.  He couldn't get me to nail things down.  There were too many grays.  I disappointed him; I wasn't trying hard enough.  

As a teacher, I see this labeling and categorizing from both sides of my desk.  On my side, different instruments are employed to find our 'color', or our 'learning style' - our personality type during professional development and team-building,   I can't help it - I end up pretty even across the spectrum.  I am gray.

On the other side of my desk - students come with their own sets of labels.  It's a world of black and white - students are or they aren't.  Gifted.  Learning Disabled.  ADHD.  Hard Worker.  Forgets homework.  Difficult parents.  Etc.  Etc.  Etc.  I've seen those labels color the lives of those kids.  In positive ways as well as negative.  I don't like them.  I like to get to know the whole child - the whole colorful child.  But then, I'm kind of useless in conferences when someone says "Tell me about so and so..."  Because I do.  I tell them everything.  All of the rainbow hues because I don't see black and white.

But I have accepted a label.  And it puts me in a community of many others who wear it.  It's not the kind of peel-off-the-back label like a name tag at a conference.  It's not a robe-or-cloak kind of label that comes on and off over my clothes.  It's more like my skin - so much a part of me that I cannot take it off and put it on at will.  It permeates everything I do.  Everything I say.  Everything I think.  It colors my entire existence.  And it seems to be a label of controversy.  One that is apparently illegal to talk about in my teaching. 

I am a Christian.  I am a follower of Jesus.  I believe in God, Creator of the universe, who not only knows each and every one of us, but loves us.  Loves me.  I believe in the goodness of God, and in His omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence.  He is sovereign.  I believe in the Holy Spirit,  God's spirit - holy counselor and comforter that dwells inside of me, guiding, encouraging, testifying, bridging.  I believe in Jesus Christ - fully man and fully God, who lived on the earth and died to redeem us - all of us - from sin.  I believe in salvation - not by works but by faith.  I believe that this faith changes us, allows the Holy Spirt to work within us, sanctifies us to be more like Christ.  

School is beginning.  In the separation of church and state, in our nation's struggle to allow religious freedoms to all, Christians are not allowed to 'practice' Christianity.  I beg to differ.  We don't have to pray out loud in order for our prayers to be heard.  We don't have to talk about who we are; our actions will speak for us.  We don't need the label to be God's instruments in this world.  Christ's instruments.  We can speak hope.  We can seek peace.  We can love one another.  We can choose joy.

Heavenly Father, thank you for keeping our children safe at school.  Thank you for your presence in those schools.  Thank you.

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  1. May your actions speak loudly this school year - to your students, to other teachers, to the administration. My daughter is a teacher & son an asst. athletic director. I posted about a prayer at the start of school.... I am visiting from Thought Provoking Thurs.

    1. Joanne,
      Thank you for stopping by. Thank you for your prayer for the start of school - for ALL of our starts of school. Prayers are SO needed! Best wishes for your daughter and son's beginning of the year as well.
      Happy Thursday,


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