Faith that Works

Teaching middle schoolers how to live and practice their faith

After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. And Pilate permitted it. So he came and took his body.”
John 19: 38

Although not strictly portrayed in scripture, I love the image of the Pieta, which is the background image for all the quotes in this series. As I write this post, I have been watching live coverage of the fire in Notre Dame. By the time this posts, we will know the extent of the damage, but as I write we don’t. The images of the iconic church in flames bring to me this image of Our Lady, Notre Dame, holding the broken body of her son in her arms. She didn’t know in that moment the joy that would be coming soon. Instead, she was left to behold the complete destruction of the greatest love in her life.

As a teacher, there are are moments that feel like an incomprehensible failure. When we see our students engage in destructive and self-destructive behaviors, it’s heartbreaking. When we see teachers, parents, administrators acting in ways that hurt us and hurt our students, we can wonder if there is even the potential of success. Right now in my own life, I feel like teaching and my dedication to my job has broken or damaged some of my most important relationships. I have to trust that the work I am doing to shift priorities will ultimately pay off. Teaching requires a lot of faith in yourself, your students, and you family to understand why all these other people hold such an important place in your heart.

Last year a former student came to see me. Our relationship when she was in my class had been strained at best, and combative at times. When she left my class at the end of 8th grade, I knew for sure I had failed her as a teacher. She struggled through high school and was struggling with life post high school. I was shocked, and to be honest, a little worried when she asked if she could come talk to me. When we sat down she said, “I feel like I am losing my faith, and I know that you always wanted what is best for me. Can you help me figure out what to do next?” This was a student who I thought could never see how much I cared for her and her struggles.

Hang in there teachers! Easter (and the end of the school year!) is coming!

Questions for reflection:
Have I ever seen God turn failures into successes?
Can I trust God to work through even my most difficult seasons of life?
What failures and heartbreaks am I holding onto that I could surrender to God?

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