God puts us in places that’s best suited for His plans. When He does place us in one place, He sure will speak to us there. We cannot limit God on how He will make Himself known to us better, nor on how He will give us the grace to morph into Christ-likeness.
Today, I record how God showed me my weaknesses and limitations. He showed me how different I am from Him. He made me know myself better in order to change. He made Himself known better so I can imitate Him. He did these through my students.
Student # 1. David
He is a bright student, always participating during class discussions. He can follow perfectly when it comes to written work, until exams came. He thought he knew the instructions, so he went on with the rest of the exam items ahead of me. I saw it and warned him to wait for me and follow my instructions. I thought he listened and followed. To my disappointment, he did not. I know he knew the answers. In fact, he overdid the exam, that’s why he wasn’t able to give only the correct answers. Sayang.
Then, God said I was just like David. At times, I disregard His instructions too, moving ahead of Him. Thus, I end up doing the wrong things, making the wrong choices. Sayang.
Student #2. Mary
She is an adorable little kid (have you seen one who isn’t?) who needs help when it comes to learning. She likes music, dancing and sharing stories from home. She also likes mimicking me as her teacher, as well as her classmates — to the point of cloaking her lack of understanding. One exam day, I was roaming around to check whether or not they can follow the instructions. I saw her and she was lagging behind. I repeated the instructions to her, again, and again, and again… She would point to the correct answer, but was encircling the other answer she did not point to! I almost lost my patience. It’s as if she didn’t understand anything! Eventually, she got it, but I almost lost it.
Then, God said I was just like Mary. He can tell me again and again what I needed to do, I would agree that it was the right thing to do, but ending up not doing it. Worse, doing the opposite. God is not anything like me, He would never lose His patience, and would lovingly repeat to me what He wants to be done. He would never get tired of me.
Student #3. Martha
She is the youngest in class. Since the first day of class, she has been crying–a lot. It’s a struggle to get her to come inside the classroom on most mornings. And when we finally made her come to class, we got ready for non-stop crying. We came to develop the technique of not paying attention to her cries, of not consoling her. Because crying was the undesired behavior, it will just get reinforced when we pay attention to it. So, it’s better not to. True enough, she would stop crying after a while, join the class, and laugh with her classmates. One morning, I got tired of her whines (yes, whines). So I asked myself whether or not ignoring her was the best option. I wondered how God would have dealt with her.
Then I realized that I was just like Martha. I too whine at times, and He knows exactly how to deal with me. He knows very much what’s inside me, what I’ve been whining about (unlike I with Martha). He doesn’t need to do trial and error of techniques to know what works best, because He already knows what is best. He knows me very well that He even knows the number of the hair on my head! Am I ever grateful! Only with His grace and guidance will I be able to deal with Martha correctly.
Student #4. Jacob
I remember the first time I met him, he roamed around the room and looked for things he could grab. I never thought that would be the first of many. He has a very short attention span, though he has improved over the months. He caused me much frustration and pain (emotional and physical), but he also caused me to pray more. When people were giving up on him, I know I must not. He challenged (challenges) how I love. Just recently, I reached the end of my string. I was not being firm yet calm, but I was completely irritated. I was tired of his utter disobedience, disregard for authority and hobby of hitting his classmates for no reason at all. I just can’t take it anymore. When it was happening, I was aware of what I was feeling, so I managed to control my actions. I wanted to cry and shout because of frustration, but I didn’t. At the end of the day, I know it wasn’t right.
Then I realized that we, humans, are just like Jacob. We, too, can be disobedient, and we have the natural tendency to hurt others. God must have felt the same emotions, or even stronger. But He handles us differently than how I handled Jacob. God is calm, and slow to anger. I am not (yet). Realizing that, I know what I must become. So, extra grace is needed.
Jesus said that the Law can be summed up with two commandments, that is, to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind and to love our neighbors as ourselves. However, He also told us to love others just as He loved us — unconditional. It is true that through these students I experience more of His love. As a Sunday school teacher (whom I’m learning a lot from) puts it, it is in Sunday school that she learned to love unconditionally–we give the kids (who could really be difficult) our best, yet we cannot expect them to give something back in return.
God accepts us no matter who we are and where we are. But He wouldn’t be satisfied that we remain who and where we are. Because of that, I am never the same Karla every after class.
*Names were changed for the protection and privacy of the children.