I've failed this week to see that bigger picture.
No matter how much you love teaching, you will still have times where you reach the end of your patience. I tend to be a very patient person. I have a slow burning fuse and rarely lose my temper. I have other faults that more than make up for my limited struggle with anger.
But this job has shown me that there is a definite limit to my patience.
Almost in response to my post last week about my job, God sent a very challenging week with my kids. Usually the challenge culminates at naptime. Two kids haven't been sleeping at naptime. There are many reasons for this, the main one is that some parents don't think about the ramifications of letting their kiddos sleep all morning and then bringing them to school later than usual. When you work with 18 year old parents of two and three year old kids, they aren't the most educated or experienced on the value of routine and structure. If it was just one or two children at a home with their parents or a babysitter, it would not be a big deal. But when you have eight that are trying to sleep and one wants to play or cry or scream during that time, it becomes a study in the limits of longsuffering for the teacher.
I have to admit I can handle just about anything else during the course of a day of teaching preschoolers except this. I pray the whole time that I can control my voice and be gentle when I put the child back in his bed for the 14,672nd time. I pray I can relax so that he will relax. I try to speak in Spanish instead of English because I can control my tone better when I have to concentrate on my words. I think I've got everything under control, and then another child wakes up because of the constant commotion and I feel the anger start to rise.
I know the restless child doesn't understand that he is waking up his friends that are sleeping. I know it's not necessarily his fault that he's not tired. I know all the tricks - massage, soft singing, rubbing and patting patterns, constant pressure, stroking thier hair. But you don't understand until you're at that point the limits of your patience.
Today, once I was relieved by my coteacher and going to my lunch break, I put in my iPod and turned it to the first song that came on. I just needed to not hear kids for a while. I needed to calm down. This song came on, and I immediately burst into tears.
If You washed away my vanity,
If You took away my words,
If all my world was swept away,
Would You be enough for me?
Would my beating heart still sing?
When my life is not what I expected;
The plans I made have failed.
When there's nothing left to steal me away,
Will You be enough for me?
Will my broken heart still sing?
If I lost it all
Would my hands stay lifted
to the God who gives and takes away?
If You take it all,
This life You've given,
Still my heart will sing to You.
Even if You take it all away
You'll never let me go.
Take it all away and I'll still know
That I'm still Yours.
I have a emotional attachment to this song because I listened to it a lot when we moved here. When I missed my family and friends and my job. When I was looking for work and feeling the constant rejection from potential employers and the increasing self-doubt that accompanies that search. When I struggled to understand new things and a new culture. When I wasn't there for important events in my "old life."
I get so set on what I want to happen in my day. I want my kids to be good, to learn what I'm trying to teach them, to love me. I want it all to go as I've planned and I forget Whose hands hold me and Who directs the events of my day and circumstances of my life. I forget that while I'm teaching my kids, God is teaching me. And maybe what He's teaching me is more important that things going my way today. Maybe me becoming more like Christ is more important than this child taking a nap, and learning His patience and endurance more glorifying to Him than my comfort or satisfaction. Perhaps God has a purpose after all.