Saturday, November 24, 2012

The reason I look UP to kids who are even shorter than I am

I teach a Sunday School class with 13+ kids in a tiny kitchen every week at my church. Honestly there are some weeks when I have no desire to teach... there are many times when I am dead-dog tired or sad about something, or just feel like I won't do a good enough job. Teaching has never been my strength, and yet every year when our church is trying to recruit volunteers, I ALWAYS sign up. Not because I feel pressured into it, but because I can't imagine a Sunday without my "awesome" kids. The thing is, at first glance, these kids may not appear awesome. People have come to help me with it and have been annoyed with the boys for being, (in their words)  disrespectful... and naughty... and just plain disobedient. But when if you've ever heard me describe these kids to you, you know I've never ever ever called them that!!!!! However, if I look at it logically, I can see where they're coming from. These kids do disobey sometimes. They do interrupt when I'm talking. The DO naughty things... like a lot!  Even so, I love them TO DEATH! And if anyone's teaching anyone in my classroom, the kids are teaching me. You might be asking, "How could they be teaching YOU??? They're being disobedient... what's to learn from that?" Despite the fact that these kids' behavior isn't ALWAYS the best (they're good a lot of the time) every Sunday they show me something pretty important.

But before I tell you what that is, let me give you an overview of my Sunday mornings... I wake up at six, whip up some sweet snack, and pop it in the oven. By that time, it's seven. Oh dear, I need to take a shower... but I should probably go over the lesson plan. So I do.  Then it's time to take the goodies out of the oven and frost them. It's 7:30... service starts at eight... AND I HAVEN'T DONE MY HAIR!!!!!!!!!  I tend to be a rather self-concious person, and regardless of what I'm wearing, I want my hair to look, well, nice. But my hair is greasy and I MUST take a  shower... so I do. It's 7:40 when I'm dressed, and my hair (which is now quite short) looks like I stood outside in a windy thunderstorm. AHHHHHHH!!! Where's my blow-dryer??? Maybe I should straighten my sopping wet hair before I blowdry it... no... bad idea. I frantically start blow drying my hair... when I hear mom knocking on the wall downstairs. (that's the way she calls us girls without walking UP the stairs)
"Honey, it's time to go. Did you turn off the oven? Come down right now, please. We're already going to be late."

I take one lingering glance at my unsightly hair, cringe, and rush out the door with brownies in hand. My heart sinks. Everyone will see my ... hair. The whole church will probably notice... NOOOOOOOOOO! I just know I'll die of embarrassment. (I tend to be a bit dramatic when stressed)

We get to church (five minutes late... and that's on a good day) I sit down in service and consider covering up my hair with the hood to my winter jacket... then decide that would look like Little Pink Riding Hood (my coat is pink.)
An hour later, service is over, and I avoid seeing anybody I know and rush to the children's wing. When I get to the Sunday School wing I set down my brownies and find my lesson plan.
Grace Emery and Sam Dewolf arrive first.
"I like your skirt, Miss Hannah" those are often the first words I hear on a Sunday morning... after a giant hug from Grace. I ask her about her week, and she gives an animated story about her fieldtrip. Inside, I'm thinking... Did she see my HAIR??? It looks like a monstor came and chewed it up! How can she hug me when I look like this???? But I listen and laugh with her and talk to her, and pretty soon the rest of the class shows up. Not a single one comments on my hair. They don't even give me a funny look.  I compliment them on their clothes or stuffed animals( this year they convinced me to implement a class "pet") and we chit-chat (from everything about legos to what they had for breakfast) until large group.
In large group, three girls want to sit on my lap!!! (I often have the urge to HUG those kids!!!) And despite the fact that I have to quietly remind the boys to listen to the teacher throughout large group, they still every week give me their smiles and their attention. (most of the time, anyways.) Back in our small groups, I basically (and usually clumsily) go through what we're supposed to do in the lesson plan. But you know what? Those kids get to see my weaknesses on a regular basis... I forget details, and often the only thing I CAN do is smile. But they still lesson, they still get involved, and they still love me. Why? I have absolutely no idea. But the unjudgmental attitude of those kids always amazes... and convicts me. Do I love like that? Do I look past a person's appearance to what's in their heart? Do I undermine weaknesses and appreciate strengths like they do?

So you see, these kids are NOT perfect. And teaching them on a rug in a super tiny kitchen isn't always EASY. But every week when I'm with those kids, I SEE how open they are with their affection. And I experience love from them all the time. Not perfect love, but love that looks past your appearance, and love that overlooks all my weaknesses. I have had a ton of people comment on "what a blessing" I  must be to those kids. They comment on how brave I must be to put up with the same group of kids for almost three years. But you know what? I'm not "putting up" with them. Whatever there is to put up with is overshadowed by what they have taught me, and how they have loved me. Their freedom to be themselves and to not try to hide behind masks constantly amazes me. Yes I love those kids. But you know what? I'm not the one being a "blessing." Every Sunday for the past three years, I've received a wonderful gift from these kids. One that I'll remember far longer than anything they'll remember from what I've "taught" them.


  1. What a crazy early Sunday morning! And I thought WE had to leave early (8:55 a.m.). The only thing I'm still wondering is...what happens to the brownies?? :)

    What a wonderful thing to learn from your students. I am experiencing that every week as I teach you all! I just had a wonderful time catching up on your blog posts. Keep up the encouraging, laugh-producing, thought-provoking writing!

  2. haha... the brownies are gobbled up by all the kids in my Sunday school, and all the other people who come to my sunday school room after class is done to finish any leftovers! Well... unless I have been overly "generous" (not able to say no) to my kids, and then there is no snack left!

  3. Mom speaking here: I so agree that the kids that I've taught have taught me so much more than I could ever teach them. They too have given me quick forgiveness...have overlooked my faults...and have been quick to give affection and hugs. I've been so blessed by, Hannah, have been one that has taught me so much and offered me grace when I didn't deserve it. Thanks for being one of those "kids" in my life.