“Mama said there’ll be days like this, there’ll be days like this Mama said.”
There are some days when everything just feels like it goes wrong.
This morning I forgot to take up the trash, forgot my gym clothes in the dryer, printed the wrong test, misnumbered my test key, messed up the task I had promised to do as a favor for a friend, had to rush down for extra copies, and forgot to put my lunch in the fridge.
All before 8:30 am.
As the day continued, more and more things went wrong, adding up, one on top of another, until I was near tears at my desk.
I was embarrassed about my mistakes, upset with my own incompetency, and angry with the day as a whole.
I found myself thinking “What am I even doing here? If I can’t do a little thing like print a stupid test correctly, why am I even in this classroom?”
Isn’t it strange how we can get so down on ourselves? Question our purpose based on a few errors, one day of mistakes and disappointments? We allow things to snowball up in our minds until what was just a little bit of snow has become an overwhelming blizzard, leaving us confused and bumbling around, missing the most important things going on around us.
God showed me just how ridiculous I was being in such a humbling way today, and I’m so thankful.
My seventh period students finished their midterm and dispersed, leaving one girl in my classroom. I asked her if she had anywhere she needed to go, and she said no.
I sighed in resignation. I just wanted some time to myself to lay my head down on my desk and lament over my crappy day.
But alas, the girl stayed put in her desk, so I let her be and began to turn my attention to the papers on my desk.
Something made me look up at her one more time, crouched in her desk at the back of my classroom. I had a feeling something wasn’t right, and after watching her little form for a minute, I said, “Honey, are you okay?”
She lifted up her face, and I saw tears streaming down her cheeks.
I was shocked, and frightened that her emotional distress had slipped past me.
I was so wrapped up in my stupid problems that I hadn’t even noticed this child’s sorrow.
We began talking, and she opened up in a way that she hadn’t all year long. She told me about her fears, and her hopes, and as she spoke I felt my heart filling up with emotion.
She asked me how I learned to be confident in myself.
I swear, I could have laughed.
Instead, I tried to be honest.
I told her that I couldn’t truly say that confidence is a lesson I’ve fully learned.
I told her about the struggle it has been for me to learn to wear my skin comfortably. About the way I’ve squirmed under the weight of my flaws, and painted doubt on my face day after day. About the way I used to believe that a girl like me must have no purpose.
I told her about the way God is teaching me to look at myself clearly. How He has shown me the beautiful parts of me, of life, of the people around me.
She said she didn’t know if she believed in God. She said she wanted to, but she had seen too much. Too much evil, too much suffering.
I told her that all the darkness I’ve seen in my life, the sorrow, the grief, has made me even more steadfast in my belief.
Because even science tells us that for every force, there is an equal and opposing force.
If there’s that much evil in the world, then it only makes sense that there is that much good.
And I told her about how I came to believe that that goodness, that opposing force of light and love, was a God that loved me.
And I told her that He loved her too.
She seemed wary, doubtful.
I asked her if I could pray for her, pray with her.
She slowly said yes, but that she didn’t know if it would work.
So I prayed aloud, a desperate cry to God to bring her peace, to show her beauty, to heal her heart, to come into her life and make her feel known and loved.
And when I lifted my head after uttering amen, I saw tears streaming down her precious cheeks.
She hitched and breathed and whispered between tears, “Ms. Sanders, I’ve had people pray for me before, but I’ve always thought ‘yeah okay, you don’t really mean it.’ I’ve never felt anything. But I felt something just now when you prayed.”
I told her I meant every word, and that I loved her.
She said she loved me too, and she zipped up her hoodie and she walked out my door.
And I sat stunned at my desk.
On a day that I had deemed crappy, God sent me someone who needed to see Him. She needed me to be His hands and feet. And oh, how my heart breaks to think that I almost avoided her need. How my soul aches to think that I could have been so wrapped up in my silly problems, my faults and mistakes of the day, that I could have missed what God intended for me to do today. My lungs catch when I consider that I was standing in the hall, doubting whether I’ve ever even had a purpose in room B108, when God was planting seeds He needed me too see.
Today was never about midterms, never about answer keys.
Today was about the heart wrapped up in sorrow and tiny fragments of hope that walked in my door at 2:05 pm, after I’d already given up the day as a lost cause.
Thank you, God, for proving me wrong.
Please join me in praying for this young lady and the hundreds of students I see a day who are desperate for a glimpse of Jesus. Please cover them in prayers for healing, salvation, and peace. Please pray for me not to be blind to their needs. Please pray that in all my imperfect mess, that God might use me. Please, please, pray for more days like this.