Teaching is teaching me a lot - not only about myself, but also about grace. Maybe some of you who have taught before, in whatever capacity, can nod your heads in agreement. Kids so beautifully show our fallen nature; our selfish desires, our desperate need for affirmation, our hunt for love and acceptance, our fear of mistakes and failure, our distracted minds, our wandering bodies. But they also show joy, freedom, simplicity, honesty and love.
Sadly, many of the kids at my school are far older than their small frames portray. Many go home to empty homes, as their parents work late at factories, cook dinner for siblings, clean, do homework, all on their own. They wear keys around their necks tied tight with a piece of worn and fraying string, small, jangling symbols of their lives.
So what does all this teach me about grace?
Monday, the first day of school after vacation, started well but ended with a classroom of 40 loud, not listening, fidgety, little people not at all interested in learning English or sitting still. Amazing how one day they can be absolute angels: attentive, eager, responsive, and the next day completely uninterested. It could be so easy to become apathetic in the teaching industry, with students that are disobedient, don't care, don't try, etc. But this is where grace comes in. I know they are kids. And I know being in school from 7:30am to 4:20pm is indeed long. But I also know where most of them come from. I know why they blurt out answers (or whatever comes to mind), because they desperately want to be affirmed. I know why that if I compliment one on their work, 40 other workbooks will be frantically shoved in my direction for the same approval. I know that if I let one kid carry my flashcards back to my office, 5 others will try to pull them away greedily, for the same touch and praise for their help (though they could have just been the trouble-making kids for the past 40 minutes). They want to be loved, affirmed, accepted, praised. And that is where grace allows me to look beyond their disobedience, defiance, and occasional apathy. Yes, they need structure, but each day is new, and each day is a new opportunity to show them love...and grace.
It's the same grace that is bestowed to me everyday.
Tomorrow is my birthday. It's my first birthday away from family and friends and officially away from home. It will indeed be an adventure...or at least I'll have mooncake to come home to. That and my roommate's "Happy Birthday" song in Chinese. Good times to come.