Wednesday, April 3, 2013

If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say...

Sometimes I get tired.  Dealing with a hard to handle child can be exhausting.  In the midst of the screaming and flailing it was hard to hold onto any semblance of joy.  But why?  Doesn't the Bible tell us to be thankful in all things?  Really?  All things?  Thankful for Hannah?  Have you met her?  Yes.  All things.

Hannah daily drove me past the point of aggravation.  She knew exactly what to say and do to get me there.  It really is true that misery loves company.  She was miserable and wanted me to be as well.  She was successful.  We were both miserable.  

One day I felt God chastening me.  Where had my joy gone?  Wasn't it supposed to be rooted in Him?  Why was I letting my circumstances steal it?  I began to think about that.  Why had I let my joy leave so easily?  I wanted it back and I set out to find it.

Corrie Ten Boom is one of my favorite people.  She lived in Holland during World War II and saved the lives of many persecuted people before being put into a concentration camp for her efforts.  Upon arriving at a new camp, she was overwhelmed with the fleas in the mattresses.  She struggled not to complain about them.  Her sister would remind her to be thankful in all things, even fleas.  They soon found they had a lot of freedom in their flea ridden barracks.  They were able to speak freely and lead Bible studies.  One day they learned their freedom was a direct result of those pesky fleas.  The guards hated the fleas so much they avoided that particular barrack.  What a blessing those fleas turned out to be!  Without them life would have been even more oppressive than it already was.

With that story in mind I began to pray about what I needed to do in order to restore my joy.  The answer was not an easy one.  I had to stop complaining.  And not just about Hannah's behavior.  About everything.  

I spent so much time rehashing our rough spots to those around me that I was never able to get past them.  Furthermore, I was not respecting Hannah in the process.  I was not giving her the room she needed to make mistakes. I was airing all my grievances without any concern for how that might affect how people viewed her.

So I stopped.  I focused on the ways Hannah was improving - because there was improvement - and do you know what I found?  My joy.  I stopped complaining about her and started expressing gratitude for her.  It was a game-changer.  Clearly I had been portraying her as a burden, but what I needed to do was see her as a blessing.  Because that's exactly what she was.

How many times in our classrooms do we do the same?  We all have that kid.  The one who is a thorn in our side daily.  How are we portraying him?  Can he clearly sense that he is not a blessing to us.  We talk about him in the teacher's lounge.  Every teacher has one.  What if starting today we held our tongue.  Just that one change.  Instead of complaining about him, we just remain silent on the issue.  What if we went one step further and actually found some way to praise him.  Try it.  See what happens.  After all, it couldn't hurt.

I am so thankful that God taught me that lesson early on in our journey.  Hannah's story is now hers to tell and she loves to share it.  She speaks openly about the rough spots and the lessons she has learned.  She looks for ways to help others through her testimony.  I'm sure it won't be long before you will see her here, in her own words, sharing a message of God's faithfulness and His incredible redeeming love.  

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