Saturday, May 4, 2013

May 24th, mark it. It's the day I get dumped, again.

I love my job. Seriously, I have no idea how I got lucky enough to do what I do each day. I have the opportunity to be with incredible kiddos every single day, and I get paid for it...not much, but enough to survive. ;)

And the best part is, they think I'm funny and have something to teach them, and in turn, they bring joy and laughter to my days and challenge me to do more, live better, and push for excellence. They don't set out to do that, it's just the nature of them. They show up ready, and in turn, they make me want to be ready.

Do you have a job like that? Where each day, if you haven't poured your heart into it, you leave feeling like you missed the boat, like you lost that day.

Teaching is crazy like that.

You have children for a small window of their lives. They are counting on you to take those 9 months and do something magical with it: to enrich their lives, to help them grow, learn, mature, prepare, and become that much more ready for life.

If you take that calling seriously, you pour enormous amounts of yourself into it. It's emotionally draining, yet great reward is reaped.

But just like any other job, teaching can be nutso. The amount of time certain tasks take, such as, meetings, conflict resolution, preparation, copy making, grading, writing letters, making sure you are investing in them, and on and on, can be overwhelming. I can get lost in the shuffle of all of it and realize I barely looked my students in the eye that day.

At times I feel like I am juggling 19 of my own children, not to mention the other 36 that come through my door.

And just as in parenting, the todo list can be so incredibly long, that the children become one more thing on it, instead of a person to interact with, or the very purpose of the todo list. They become #9, and just one more thing to check off for the day.

For me, it takes about one week for my heart to be stolen by my students. I don't know what happens, but by week 2, they are kiddos.

But, in teaching this funny and terrible thing happens, you fall in love with the kids, you give them each a piece of you, you store a bit of them inside your heart, but when May rolls around, they are ready to move on, and you have to let them go.

If you've done your job well, they are ready to walk out the door and take on the next step in life.

Sure, some still come around and hug you, but the daily interaction is over, the involvement in knowing how they are and what they are up to becomes less and less. Some, you never even see again.

I always hate the last day of school.

It leaves me with such an empty feeling, it makes me feel like I was just dumped.

My heart poured out, but then I have to take it back, pick up the pieces, remind myself that I just get a window of time...and then get ready to give it away again come September.

Each year, I think there isn't any way I could possibly love the next class as much as I do this one, but somehow, someway, God opens my heart a bit more and lets me pour it out once again, not hold back knowing what's to come, and He keeps convincing me it's worth it.

Two more weeks until I'm "dumped" once again, and to say I'm bracing myself, would be an understatement.

This last week was a tough one. Teaching is an emotional job, and when conflict arises, it can drive me bonkers. Conflict is hard for me, it tends to consume me until it is settled, so my days can be very heavy during it.

With teaching, I lay my heart out, so when conflict arises, well, my heart is left out there. And I don't function well when my heart isn't protected.

Unfortunately, my pride can get in the way as well, so at times, defending myself becomes more important than shutting up and listening. It never lands me in a good spot, but I seem to have to learn that hard lesson periodically.

The other day, as we were reading the story of the "rich young ruler", a few more details than usual stood out to me...a few details dealing with pride.

I'm not sure what I've always thought that story was about...I guess about money and the temptation of it, and maybe even how one should never have too much, how we will have to give it all away, that a camel has a better chance of getting to heaven than me, or that God doesn't want us to go to Starbucks or shop at Anthropologie, which, frankly means I'm up a creek!

But this time, I seemed to see another side to the story.

As I read and prepared for my lesson, and as we read it together and broke down a few of the details, it seemed so clear to me.

I'm sure you all knew this already, but it's taken me 35 (almost 36) years to see a deeper message in it.

The lesson I saw this time was one of pride, one of missing the entire point, the one about Jesus.

The rich young ruler asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life.

So, right off the bat, he thought he had to do something...or more importantly, he thought he could do something or that it was about doing something.

Which, in that culture they did DO quite a bit. The law was a big deal, so I can't necessarily fault him for that.

So, Jesus starts rattling off some of the laws, and the young guy responds, "I have kept all these."

What? Say that agin?

You've kept ALL those.

(I may have claimed that a time or two to Jesus)

Problem #2 was the guy didn't see his own sin.

He looked at Jesus and said, tell me, what do I need to do to get this thing called eternal life. Because I'm rockin' this list of todo's and not-todo's. I don't lie or cheat or steal or murder...I keep all of the commands...which kind of explains the need for the Sermon on the Mount...obviously we all needed a Sin 101 chapter.

The guy was missing the entire point of God, of Jesus, of relationship, of it all.

He was looking at the Savior of the world, of Life and Love embodied, yet this rich guy, this young guy, this ruler, completely missed it.

He didn't need a Savior, and Heaven was just a place to get in to.

So, Jesus chose the one thing that spoke to this guy's heart, that made him flinch.

"Sell all your possessions and give to the poor and come follow Me."

Say what?

The guy "went away grieving, because he owned much."

Money: it gave him power, status, security, and the ability to live the life he probably even gave him the feeling that he could buy his way in; to get him to the next level.

Jesus' response to his disciples was, "Children, how hard it will be be for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God...It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

It says the disciples were even more astonished (apparently, the rich had the claim on heaven) and said to Him, "Then who can be saved?"

Jesus answers with this great line, one that has been underlined in my Bible for years, but not until this last time reading it did it really click for me...

"With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible for God."

This rich, young ruler thought he could do something to get into heaven.

He was rich, he was young, he was a ruler, so he could get himself in. When I think I have means, connections, power, and I'm young and stupid enough to think that's all it takes, I think I can get into anywhere. That I can solve any problem. I don't need anyone, I don't sin like other people, and I certainly don't need a Savior.

But besides all of that, the guy seemed to view Heaven as a place all about getting into.

Is it a country club?

Is it a place we rich just think we need to figure out how to get into?

What do we need to buy?
How much do we need to give?
What connection do we need to tweak?
What todo list item are we missing so we can check that box off too?

But Heaven isn't just a place to get into.

It's not a prestigious school.
It's not a club or a group.
It's not something that is just the next stop in life or next level to this game.

The purpose isn't's Jesus.

Heaven is home, because it's the place where our heart is, it's the place we reunite fully with's His home, the place where we are with Him.

Home, here on earth is not just a location. In fact, it's rarely a location.

Home is connected to people we love.

On the weekends that Cade is away, my house is quiet, and even though it's a bit of a safe haven, I don't spend much time there, because it's missing a huge component, my peep.

After my mom died, even though my dad was still in the home I grew up in, and even though it gave me some comfort, after he sold it, it was okay, because what made it a home, was no more.

People make a home. Love makes a home.

I can be like the rich young ruler all. the. time.

I can think that life is about todo lists. I can think Heaven is a todo list, both for me and my son.

"God, tell me what to do, and I'll check it off and go on living my life with my head in the sand, walking passed people, building my career and my 401K, and ignoring my child, my family, and You."

Honestly, I don't think God cares how much wealth we have. He of course knows how difficult it is for us to manage it, the power and status we begin to attach to it, and He warns us about that, but I imagine money to Him seems ridiculous.

It's the obsession, the squirrel I keep chasing, and I miss the whole point of all of this.

I miss Jesus. I miss Him. I miss my purpose, the very thing that'll bring me life down here, and bring me closer to Him.

The rich, young ruler was staring at the Creator, the One who was there when he was knit in his mother's womb, yet just saw Him as a good teacher who could tell him how to get in.

Jesus was a means to an end.

He wasn't the end.

So often in my life, people are a means to an end.

Jesus is a means to an end.

I see my todo list and it's checked off...but what is ridiculous is what breathes life isn't found on that todo list.

It's found in people, in relationship, in and with Jesus.

When I was little and contemplating truth and God and heaven, my internal response was, "Well, my parents believe in it, so I'll be going wherever they are, and that's fine with me. As long as I'm with them."

Being with them was enough when I was little.

But now, it needs to be about being with Jesus.

Wherever He is, that's where I want to be...following Him, wherever He takes me.

And the beauty of it is, that eventually, He'll take me home, to the truly safe haven of Heaven, where my heart is, where it longs to see and understand and be with what it was created for.

Life is tough. It's busy, crazy busy.

It always includes a todo list, a todo list that keeps our jobs intact, that keeps clean clothes on our backs, and prevents little league baseball from EVER being just a slow, fun activity on a Saturday. ;)

I just know I need to manage my todo lists better; that life, home, love, and relationship aren't found on it.

It's impossible for me to find those on a piece of paper I've created. I can't buy them, I can't believe I'm perfect and get them, and as long as I think they are something that can be checked off, I'll never experience them.

Life, home, love, and Jesus take me; all of me, my heart, my soul, my time, my mind, my acknowledgement of that they are worth more than any amount of gold.

It takes me walking away from the things I chase here on earth, and realizing the One who holds all that my heart longs for, and all what life is about is standing. right. in front. of me.

In Him,

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