Something caught me by surprise today. It was a nasty thing, a product of our broken world. It grabbed me around the neck and forced the air out of me and left me sad and unsure. You see, every day, I leave school around 4. I love talking to students, but some days, I'm just ready to zip out of there because, you know, I've been standing and talking to people for, like, twenty-five thousand hours. And so, when a student asked me to hang out for a bit after school a few days ago, I flew in and out of the classrooms, finishing things up, not really listening. I shrugged: Whatever it was, could wait. Today, though, I finally stopped. We sat together and I heard her loud and clear. Some terrible things had happened in her life.
Her story is not mine to tell, but as she was speaking of families ripping apart, painful disappointments, and raw wounds, my voice caught in my throat. I hurt for her, and I felt guilt rise from the pit of my stomach: I'd been too busy to see her for a whole week and this had been going on. This was what was pressing. And she'd waited, patient, and kind. She'd still hugged me, told me she'd catch me another time. She still told me she loved me, and gave me more grace when I allowed my busyness to take the driver's seat. I'd been around, sure. I'd been scratching papers with red pens and clicking away at emails rather than slowing down.
I hadn't stopped to listen.
I was (am) heartbroken. Instead of doing my job (because teachers sign up for our jobs to educate, sure, but everyone knows we're in it for the kids), I'd allowed other, small things to get in the way of a conversation I should've been having. Instead of sitting down and slowing down, I waved my hand and swore I'd have time later.
Sister, maybe today is your later. Maybe today is the day you need to sit down, slow down, grab a drink and really listen. One of the biggest things teaching has taught me is that we're all carrying a lot of junk. People (read: teenagers) often seem frustrating until you know their full story. Every time I'm annoyed a kid is acting out, I almost always find out something is always going on at home. Something is going on with their health, their parents, or their siblings. Every. Single. Time. And, for some reason, I continue to learn this lesson -- giving more grace and opening my ears a little more. All it takes is sitting down and slowing down. Invite that friend to coffee. Buy hers. Don't say a lot. Just listen. Just be.
You are not to busy, and nor am I.
I hope you have the greatest weekend ever.
walking with you,