I teach the tough kids.
And for a while, I could not understand how in the world they would allow a person as spastic and unstructured as myself to reign over such an environment. These students need structure and calm, and all the effort in the world on my end does little to add either. I major in chaos, even knowing my desired results could go drastically awry. I try activities with mixed results, and sometimes I wonder how any learning takes place with the amount of instructional time I spend in redirection. Yet, here I am, second school, second set of people, same tough kids that get tougher over time as they pass their state standardized tests, and I wonder when in the world they learn the information in the mix of all the confusion I call a classroom.
Some of the most complicated cases are intentionally given to me. Today I learned the reason…I capture calm in chaos.
And He said, “It is because you come to Me first. So while you major in chaos and confusion, I major in calm. Consequently, so do you because you choose Me.”
I spent the month of August writing scriptures that I “accidentally” came across in a blog right after I finished my recent devotion. Every day, I highlighted and saved photos of scriptures about peace as they related so well to my search for balance. About a week in, I recognized that the month of August was actually specifically dedicated to peace. And He said, “You asked for balance so I gave you peace. You did not understand at the time that I was answering your prayer. You thought you just found a new blog, but what you really encountered was a gift from Me – calm in the midst of chaos.”
Yesterday, I watched my two-year old as we played with blocks. We built large towers, and then we destroyed them to start over again. We lined them up, and then we put them back in the box to line them up again. In the middle of our activity, I realized that she is on to something. Perhaps the focus is not the tower or the straight line. Perhaps the victory is not in the end result. Perhaps everything we need to enjoy our time together is in the process – the building process…the aligning process. At first, I could not understand how she would take so much time to create this large structure only to tear it down. Yet in 15 minutes, I understood that the experience is more fun than the final result could ever be. Though the toppled building and scattered pieces looked like a mess, one glance at the two year-old and her dedication to producing masterpieces from the madness reminded me that perhaps I had it backwards. My focus was incorrect. I was focused on the chaos. I should have been focused on the calm.
So how can you capture calm in chaos?
- Be yourself. I could give you thousands of motivational quotes all about finding your uniqueness and sticking to it, but I will save you the dramatics. My calm began the moment I accepted myself as is. My students learn because every day, I give them 100%. I extend more chances than they deserve, try to engage even when I know they are bored to tears, continue to reach out even after they have stopped listening. I tell them I love them even as I write their referrals so they will know that this is not personal. I expect excellence even from the toughest cases. I fall on my face some days, completely drained, but everything I gave them was ALL ME. Even better, the God in me. And He reminds me, “Those students were not assigned to you, they were assigned to Me. Just wake up in the morning. Just be yourself. I will take it from there.” He can do the same for you.
- Redirect your focus. Too many times we focus on the grande finale, but the production is not about the grande finale. The production is all the takes before. The grande finale is how you end, but the quality of a performance is all the scenes in between. My children have got it right. It is the adults who have their priorities out of whack. My daughter knows the importance creating beauty one piece at a time. My son understands when we play 5 little monkeys, that the objective of the game is not necessarily to get to 1 because once we are there, the game is over. Therefore, before we get to 1 (at around 2 or 3), he quickly begins to remind me that the next round, we are going to play 10 little monkeys, or 12 little monkeys, or 20 little monkeys. He does anything he can to keep the jumping going, to keep the experience going, to enjoy every second of one of his favorite made-up games. The calm is not in being done. The calm is the quality time full of moments you will forever remember.
Today was not an easy day. I wrote 4 referrals and at least 5 lunch detentions. I called parents of all parties involved with or without associated violations attached. My children could not play with their toys at the football game because the holes were too big in the bleachers. The game started 2 1/2 hours late. My family lost their cool. My students lost their cool. My daughter cried for 20 straight minutes which was unfortunate for the poor, unsuspecting fans. And I walked in the door at 11pm to a clean house, and a peaceful spirit.
And for the 45th time over the past year, I ask myself where in the world did this girl come from? How on earth did I capture this calm?
And He said…
“You are the calm.”
What about you? How do you capture calm?
Join me in my journey to capture calm, conquer fears, and follow the path God creates.