I apologize if it seems like I can’t get over this whole “belovedness” thing. (In truth, I never really want to get over this renewed revelation.) Perhaps the first step is acknowledging our own role as beloved of the Father, but there is another step that follows. It involves seeing how others are beloved children of God, too.
The end of the school year probably isn’t the best time to start deeply considering how my students are uniquely loved by God. However, their behavior is making it necessary for survival. Sophomores are getting more squirrelly and seniors are D.O.N.E. Mentally, most of them are a long ways into summer break, which makes teaching them an exercise in charity. And patience. And forbearance. And long-suffering love. You get the picture.
Last week, I was barely surviving. Tension was high and I felt stressed about several things. Add to that the attitudes and antics of students and I was waking up with stress headaches that lasted throughout the day, pretty much the whole week. Obviously, the Lord doesn’t desire that sort of life for me. It led me to wonder: Lord, what are you doing here?
Frequently on my mind was that familiar title of John as the one whom Jesus loves. Delving into my own belovedness was a good refresher, but it had to also be drawn into seeing the students’ belovedness.
Certain students cause more stress and so I prayed, “Lord, help to see ______________ as your beloved child.” There wasn’t a magical shift as I prayed this about a few different students, but it did make me start wondering. What does the Lord particularly love about these people? I wonder if I can see it, too.
Beyond the stress and the frustration, I want to see a glimpse of what the Lord sees. It isn’t that I think they are unlovable–I just know that I don’t see them clearly. My vision is clouded by previous unsatisfactory run-ins or skewed by personalities that conflict. The Lord loves them uniquely and I want to know a portion of that unique love so that I may love them better. (This tactic might also be useful with family members, co-workers, and random strangers on the street.) Without exception, the Lord loves everyone in a particular way. If only I could have a ray of that knowledge infused in my brain, I am certain it would dramatically change how I approach others.
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
My students have an uncanny way of revealing me to myself, but it is generally the parts of me I thought I had conquered or sufficiently covered up. Their responses yield a response in me that is often surprising and disconcerting. It reminds me that the Lord has a long ways to go before I am anywhere near the saint I ought to be.
Just as a couple weeks ago I was praying for a merciful heart, now I find myself asking to see them as beloved. When frustration and annoyance are quick to escalate, I desire to see a beautiful glimpse of God’s love emanating from them. Instead of seeing them as my cross, I want to encounter them as a gift. Lord, show me what you love about them and help me to love that, too.