The lesson plan for the day was to discuss the argument from efficient causality. Yet they managed to completely derail that plan. When students ask questions that are about the faith and yet truly interest them, it is nearly impossible for me to continue with class as planned. Interiorly, I am torn between following a schedule or curriculum and the desire to answer questions that organically spring up in their hearts.
Nine times out of ten I go with the questions they present to me. I don’t believe I’ve ever regretted it, I only wish that each class would then magically divert itself in the same way. Genuine curiosity and ponderings aren’t things you can manufacture in other classes.
“So is this argument saying that all things are caused to be by other things? Or it is saying not all things are caused to be by other things?” I asked.
“I have a question that kind of relates but is off topic. If God is caused or even if He isn’t caused, what is the point of life? Like why did God make us? What is our purpose?”
Those questions, dear readers, will definitely sidetrack me. When senior boys are curious about why they were created and the meaning of life, I will dropkick lesson plans to spend time answering some of the biggest questions of life.
This is the class that argued with me about gravity objectively existing. The day before this class, instead of working on an assignment they chose to ask me a thousand inane questions about my car, my hometown, and where my parents live. So hearing one student start a conversation about the purpose of their lives and why God made them, and then hearing several other students jump in with follow-up questions, was a pure delight. The only problem was the lack of time before the bell would ring.
To begin to answer their questions, I went back to the beginning. The Trinity. I spoke of how the Father and Son pour out a love that is so strong that it is another person, the Holy Spirit. Within this communion of love, there is nothing that is lacking. God was perfectly satisfied within this exchange of love. Therefore, we are not needed. God didn’t need us.
Telling students that God doesn’t need them is one of my favorite things. I always include that God has a profound love for us, but too often we consider ourselves to be the center of the universe. Instead, I strive to instill in them that God is the necessary being and that our existence is a pure gift. It isn’t necessary for me to be. God wouldn’t be unjust if He didn’t choose to create me. Instead, it is good that I exist and it is an incredible gift that I am here.
God desired to share His love with us in a generous outpouring of existence. We weren’t created to fill a need in God’s heart. While that might decimate our romantic notions, it is far better that we were created out of generosity and not need. If God needed us, then our creation is entirely self-serving. If God doesn’t need us, then our existence is willed simply for us to share in the communion of love that is God. Our end goal is Heaven, living completely within this love that God has for us and for each person of the Trinity.
The student’s response? He said that was the best answer he had ever heard for that question. Senior boys don’t often give me many compliments, so that one carries a ten-fold weight.
The questions continued to roll in and I answered them until the bell. And I couldn’t help but think that this is why I went into teaching. The fact that on a Friday afternoon senior boys were overflowing with questions about God, Heaven, Hell, existence, and purpose was an occurrence that fills me with joy even now.
They wanted every day to be one where they ask questions. Or at least have a “casual Friday” where they ask questions. It makes me want to throw the curriculum out the window and just listen to the desires of their hearts. Some classes would definitely go better than others. Education built upon authentic questions and true seeking is far better than force feeding truths, no matter how beautiful and soul-stirring I find them. Somewhere in the middle is the balance. Somewhere one should be able to find a curriculum that meshes well with answering the questions they truly desire to ask.
For the past few weeks, the question that has troubled me is “How can we help them fall in love with Jesus?” I have yet to encounter the solution for that dilemma. But Friday reminded me of an important truth–the desire to know and love God is written on our hearts. I simply need to teach in a way that works with the natural desires of their hearts.
Friday was a grace from God. It wasn’t idle curiosity, but souls burning to know that there is more to this world than what our culture offers them. More, perhaps, than what members of the Church offer them sometimes. Instead of discussing aspects of an argument for God’s existence, they decided to ask questions that assumed He was real. The boys who argued the reality of gravity or the shape of the earth, didn’t contest the reality of God but instead questioned what their purpose might be. It seems the Lord is answering my prayers in ways I didn’t expect yet are incredibly good for my little heart.