Then two years ago the first REAL gift-affirmation arrived. Three students invited me to be their teacher of honor at the 5th grad academic banquet. When I asked each of them why, I was dumbfounded.
One girl had a heart defect, having surgeries and more than one scary moment surrounding her heart health. She knew I understood what it felt like to be scared. She asked me to host a lunch in my room the day before she went for surgery, where some of her friends could gather and pray. Of course I did, but that was her “moment” with me.
Another girl said she invited me because I knew how it felt to be in pain. She’d battled a skin disease that was so rare she was undiagnosed for most of the year she was in my classroom. She knew if she’d ask me I’d pray for her. She asked, and I did. That was her moment with me.
And the third girl, quiet and reserved, my total opposite, told me she invited me because of our mutual love for sports, but she played soccer with a bone malformation of her feet that caused her extreme pain. She and I journaled back and fourth about this pain in her writer’s notebook. Those entries were her moment with me.
These were the first spiritual affirmations I’d ever felt for teaching as my “gift”. Yet, teaching was only the avenue into something bigger, deeper, and more real that I honestly don’t have a word to express. I believe God wants me to teach in the public schools for these moments.
Last year I received another amazing email. The mom of a student three years ago emailed to say, “My older step daughter (my student’s step sister) had just given birth to a little girl with Down Syndrome. My student immediately said they should call me because she knew I’d share anything I could to help them get started on their journey
A total God moment, right? What an affirmation of being where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m doing in Goshen Community Schools, but it wasn’t about my gifts in teaching itself, but about being present in these students’ lives during middle school – a scary, powerful, often vulnerable time.
Is my gift being vulnerable? Is my gift in story-telling? Is my gift in just acting silly so students feel more comfortable in their skin? Is my gift in teaching? Maybe It’s in the layers so deep under the surface of what people see as “a teacher.” I don’t even know for sure, but God does. What I do know is that teaching is life-giving, spiritually enriching, and harder than it’s ever been. It might be my gift, right?
The Old Fool observes that Angela maximized her gift of teaching by adding heart and vulnerability. Other teachers and speakers, especially preachers of the gospel would do well to do the same. There is power in weakness.
The next post will likely belong to the From One Preacher to Another category