Monday, December 5
Flesh lives and grows. It responds to stimuli and to life. It sloughs off and comes back refreshed - alive. It protects, covers, and nourishes. Flesh is transparent and always present.
People often ask me why I am a teacher, and as often as I am asked why, I am tempted to say that I am a teacher because I was born that way. I was created not only for the purpose of teaching but for the purpose of loving students and of watching freshmen grow from awkward, mildly smelly adolescents to mature young adults who are capable of changing the world. There is a group of students whom I consider "mine." These are the ones with whom I have walked through my own valleys and others I have carried through their own. There is a funny bond between teachers and students. It's not quite friendship - in fact, often the bond between teachers and students can be much deeper. It's my job to make students see potential within themselves, celebrate with them when they achieve more than they thought they could, push them when they can do better, and force them to dream big.
Along with that comes a certain amount of trust. In their writing, they trust me with their hopes, dreams, and fears - and in those moments, when I am holding their secrets - the pieces of themselves they are afraid to let parents and peers see - I know my purpose. This is what I was made to do. In those moments, my words become flesh. I have to allow all of the promises I have made these students to be their reality, to respond to those hopes, dreams, and fears in a positive way. My purpose is to be the first adult who listened to a student bravely acknowledge and verbalize his homosexuality. My purpose is to be the first adult to whom a student whispered the words, "I want to apply to Harvard; will you write me a recommendation?" and to hug her this fall as she left Savannah for her sophomore year. My purpose is to be the adult that kids want to get coffee with so that they can talk about how their lives are going and ask hard questions that I cannot always answer.
My words have to be flesh. My words have to grow with me, with the places I have walked, the wisdom I have gained, and the love I hope to convey to these kids. When I tell my students that I care about them and their world, I have to make it real to them. I may not be able to change the world, but with my whole heart I can love the kids that will.
So, during Advent, I question if this is a small bit of what God had in mind when he sent Jesus. I wonder if he had similar thoughts. I wonder if God believes in us and loves us so much that he thought - how can I prove to those crazy, hard-headed kids that I want them to see potential within themselves, that I want to celebrate with them when they achieve more than they thought they could, that I want to push them when they can do better, and force them to dream big? I can't help but wonder if that's who Jesus was - God's proof that he is madly in love with us. And maybe, just maybe - it's you or me who Jesus is teaching to change the world.
- Nicki Brewer