Hello tumblr world. It’s been a while. The truth is, when life gets hard, I have a rough time putting it in writing. I feel as though others would often disagree. When life is hard, people find it therapeutic to write down their troubles. And this is sometimes true for me, but lately I’m afraid it would bring to light too many things. I decided to join Teach For America this past May. I would like to say I picked this journey because I have a strong passion to help the underprivileged in our country and the injustice that occurs amongst the racially and economically disadvantaged. And yes, that is true is a sense. But a deeper, more selfish part of me chose this path because it was, in fact, a path. In the midst of senior year, I was falling. I was spiraling down a path of unknowns. My best friends were getting married and moving away. Others were getting jobs or getting into prestigious graduate schools. Others were traveling around the world. And here I was, an ECE major, praying I would land a job somewhere. A major sin I struggle with is my sense of insecurity. It infects my entire life. Including my belief that I would find a job and find a path for myself. Yes, I know Jesus has a plan for me, and there is nothing I can do to screw it up. But as a sinful human, I want some control.
Teach For America representative came to Miami in late Spring. I had gotten many emails from TFA previously. I’d heard of the organization, and I knew it was a noble choice for any college graduate. But I spent four years getting my degree in education. TFA is designed for college graduates who did NOT major in education. So why, do you ask, did they approach me? I still don’t know that answer. All I knew was that I wanted to be somewhere that I was needed. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to leave my comfort zone, and be challenged. But honestly, I really just wanted a job! Upon accepting my placement in South Carolina, I started to panic. This is real life. I’m really moving to SC. Away from my friends and family. Away from Ohio, the only place I’ve ever lived. Away from all comfort and security. This is coming from the girl who already feels insecure! What was I getting myself into…
The first week of induction was incredible. TFA filled me to the brim with hashtags on hashtags, such as: #collectiveempowerment #serviceleadership #oneday #growthmindset #SCfamily… and let’s just say I drank the kool-aid. I left with a fire to transform lives. Although 16 million children face the challenged of poverty, they can achieve the highest level of excellence. Seven short days later I was in my own classroom of entering-first graders for summer school. This raging fire soon went down to a dim light. I had never faced a harder class- behavior-wise. I felt pretty confident in my ability to discipline students after student teaching, but this was completely different. I was in a new community in Cleveland, Mississippi. The cultural differences hit me like a ton of bricks. I was not open to it, and what I realize now is that I was extremely hesitant to adapt. I would only be there for five weeks, why adapt completely when I would soon be leaving? I didn’t give my kids a chance from day 1. After the first week of the hardest teaching in my life, I realized I didn’t know my students. I didn’t know their families. I didn’t know their interests, hobbies, passions, or dreams. I didn’t know what made them tick. No wonder they didn’t respect me!
One afternoon my student, (M), uttered something that would peirce right through my heart. “I don’t want to be here. I hate school. I want to go home.” Wow. Usually young children love school. They love their teachers naturally. They are interested in learning and curious. And these kids wanted nothing more than to get out. I felt defeated. The next day my collab members and I went to our students’ softball game. I got to see them in their natural setting. I talked with their families and community members. I talked with people sitting on their porches, doing their hair and drying their sheets. I saw them, and they saw me. And it was beautiful. As fluffy as that sounds, it really was. My students saw that I cared. It’s one thing to tell them every morning they walk in the room and when they head to the bus. It’s another to show it in your actions.
Today was the last day of school. The growth my students made is astounding. And the growth I made is even more incredible. Crying as the last of my babies got on their buses was the moment that I knew this is exactly where Jesus wanted me. He wanted me to meet these kids. He wanted them to grow. And he wanted me to break down, only to build me up in Him.
As said by an inspirational man, and radical lover of Jesus- “There is someone that I love even though I don’t approve of what he does. There is someone I accept though some of his thoughts and actions revolt me. There is someone I forgive though he hurts the people I love the most. That person is……me.” -C.S. Lewis
My intentions were not honorable. The outcome was. I am so blessed to have lived in the Mississippi community. I cannot express how thankful I am to the people I’ve met. I am loved by a God whom I don’t deserve, and never will deserve. And despite my screw-ups, despite my sinful nature, his love will never waiver. My love for my kids will never waiver. No matter how hard it is, no matter how many times they push my buttons. I will love them regardless, because I am the daughter of a God who loves me regardless.
Here’s to South Carolina. And here’s to my God who can do immeasurably more than I could ever hope or imagine. In less than a week I will move to Florence, SC. And my life will continue to change.