"The more you pay attention to it, the more it increases."
Ha! So, lesson is- the more I pay attention to negative behavior in my students, the worse it will get. Encourage the good behavior more- focus on it- don't neglect to correct the bad, but don't make it more than it is.
This got me thinking today about grace. Let me back up to last night to confess something. I have recently come to realize that, like most Western women of our age, I am afflicted with an over-sensitivity to my appearance and I have battled with myself for several years with trying to develop healthy habits- eat more healthily, lose weight, get more muscle tone without becoming obsessive. BUT I was always at war with myself- never satisfied with how I was in the present. Only looking back- (because I'm not as toned right now as I was a year ago and would like to be, let's just be honest)- do I see that I had no reason to not just be healthy and enjoy how I was. Anyhow- I think in focusing too much on the habits and the guilt I'd feel when I messed up in my discipline, I may have caused myself to develop a tendency of binging, which has been ongoing in waves for probably two years. I'm not talking eating two trays of brownies, but mindless, senseless eating that lasts beyond the point of getting full. Last night, (I've been trying not to eat at night, but last night I was up late, got hungry) I decided have a small snack that could have well satisfied the hunger had I let it settle and gone to sleep like I planned, but I went back to the kitchen to get a little more to eat- and then a little more, and I did this six times total until I finally felt full...and guilty. Oh boy. Guilt. And this lovely guilt cycle has overrun its course in my life. I am sick of it. I have focused on it- it has gotten worse. And now you know it. No use hiding it. Hopefully throwing it out there to the world like this will do good for someone with a similar struggle who reads this to know we are not intended to think or live in such an oppressive state of mind.
So why do I belabor my sin when God does not? He firmly deals with negative behavior, yes, but he encourages the positive more. He is gracious. He is forgiving. He separates sin from the sinner as far as the east is from the west- so that, in his mind, the two never meet again (Ps.103)! As in the classroom, hope and encouragement produce better results than accusations or stating disappointment in student performance over and over. God does not accuse, but Satan is called "the accuser." PHEW--if I could replay for you the tracks that circulate in my head, you'd think the record would have broken by now. Our society sure doesn't help much either- goodness. Most of the people in this world lack easy access to necessities; corrupt social structures need to be reformed; love needs to be given, and here we are obsessing over the sacks of flesh our souls inhabit as if improving their looks will imbibe life into our souls. I'm so grateful we are meant for more- for life to the full- to re-gift the grace God gives so amply.
Jesus said to the woman at the well, "To him who believes in me I will give living water so that he will never thirst again." He let her know that he knew of her sin in having five "husbands" and living unlawfully with the most recent of them, but he didn't condemn her; he offered her something better. Something refreshing to drink-forever. I love the way she leaves that conversation- running back into the town to call out everyone she could to "come see the man who told me everything I ever did! He might just be the Messiah!" He called her to change, but he met her where she was- drawing water- going through the normal grind. He stopped to grant compassion. Our God- our perfect teacher- has set high expectations for us- for each of us- and he will help each student to rise to those expectations without lowering them for anyone. (Jn. 4)
I'd like to close with a reminder from Paul, who, like me, was really fed up with a "thorn in his flesh."
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:8-10).
I'm so grateful God has set me to work at CFCI so I can learn more about his nature. Maybe I'm destined to be a teacher after all- maybe at least until I fumble along long enough in the profession to learn that He really does love me. Grace Grace Grace. It really is amazing. Thanks for reading. Please pray for me, that I may see and know and give God's grace abundantly.