I’m Tired I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left….
My prayers are wearing thin
Yeah, I’m worn
Even before the day begins
Yeah, I’m worn
I’ve lost my will to fight
So, heaven come and flood my eyes
Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause all that’s dead inside will be reborn
–“Worn” -Tenth Avenue North
That was how my week ended. It found me filled with a great sense of tiredness and my inability to be perfect and teach as well as I desire. I want perfection or at least success. It is hard to remind myself that God is desiring my faithfulness far more than my success. My competitive nature wants to win and even though I don’t quite know who I am in competition with, I can feel that I am not winning. Perhaps part of my mopey feelings stemmed from remembering that I was a natural at school as a student but am not quite a natural as a teacher. For some reason I assumed that those two went hand-in-hand. But, alas, they do not.
I received some criticism, some fair and some unwarranted, from a student as the topping to my Friday. Those words echoed in my mind throughout that evening and into the rest of the weekend. We are an ungrateful society but it is difficult to find gratitude in the faces of students who don’t even want what you are offering. So I spent the weekend wondering what God wanted, frustrated with my students and more so myself. If I was less stubborn and bull-headed I might have considered quitting or finding a different job in the near future. This sounds dramatic considering the conversation that took place wasn’t earth-shattering. Primarily what topped the feeling chart was that I was tired of not adequately communicating the love I have for Jesus and the Church and wondering why I was in a position so obviously ill-suited to my temperament. Yet the weekend continued on and all of this pondering and wondering led to much fruit. On Sunday I watched “Beyond the Blackboard” and I began to put my situation in perspective. The movie is about a teacher who faces seemingly insurmountable odds and yet, of course, she manages to come out ahead and be a wonderful inspiration. I knew the ending would be triumphalistic but it was what I needed to get me back into a “I can make a difference and help people” mindset.
So I decided to pursue a course of change. For a melancholic, this is a quite a feat in itself. Monday I started all of my Apologetics classes with my students writing down what they like and dislike about my class. I encourage charity and criticism with the intention of being constructive. For the most part, my students were very good. While my ego was wounded a bit in the reading of them, I found much that encouraged me. Some students were encouraging since I was a first year teacher and others told me to not take it too personally because religion isn’t well-liked by many people. It also reconfirmed the realization that no matter what I do, I will never please all of them at the same time. The weekend gave me time to build things up and feel as though everybody hated me and my class. Some of the students claimed to have no complaints, others had some reasonable complaints, and others took the opportunity for what it was worth and, hiding behind the anonymity of it, let me have their unadulterated criticism. I shared with my mother that I was beginning to partially understand how God could be frustrated with us–I have only 115 or so students that I am trying to please while God has 7 billion. No matter what I due, someone will be displeased. God does things far better than I and still people are continually unsatisfied with what He is offering. Too often I am among that number.
I wonder at times if the Lord has placed me here not because of anything I can teach my students but rather because of something that He desires to do in my own heart. Perhaps in some way teaching can convert my heart like nothing else could. Sometimes my stubborn heart is my downfall and at other times it is that which keeps me from giving up and surrendering the battle.
Lord, I am still in this battle until You take me home. But I renewed my desire again today that it be Your classroom and not mine. You are a much better teacher.