We can’t fix it.
Teachers are fixers. If a scholar makes a mistake, we offer correction. If there is conflict between students, we help them reach a resolution. If an accident occurs on the playground, we nurse the wound. If a child is missing supplies, we provide the resources. We are fixers. This is one reason why many educators find our current situation so very difficult to navigate. We can’t fix it.
I was visiting with a principal this past week. She told me she was very concerned about her teachers. They are all working so hard and have been for months. However, she fears many are coming to a breaking point.
It’s no wonder teachers are feeling high levels of stress and frustration. The current pandemic is causing many to take on an insurmountable task—providing an equitable education for all children virtually and/or in-person while wearing a mask and practicing physical distancing! What? It seems no matter how hard we work, no matter how late we stay up, and no matter how much we learn, it’s still doesn’t feel like enough. We just can’t fix it, and I guess we have to be OK with that. It may be time to cut ourselves some slack!
Over the last few months, the one word that I keep hearing is grace (i.e., how we need to give ourselves and others some grace during this time). “Grace” is one of those words thrown around frequently. I often wonder if we totally grasp what it actually means. The idea of grace is hard to wrap our minds around because our earthly nature gravitates toward what is fair or what is earned. Most of us are willing to offer grace to someone IF they deserve it. However, as Christians we are called to extend a different type of grace. Here is a glimpse into a deeper understanding of Biblical grace.
· Grace is free sovereign favor to the ill-deserving.” B.B. Warfield
· “Grace is love that cares and stoops and rescues.” John Stott
· “[Grace] is God reaching downward to people who are in rebellion against Him.” Jerry Bridges
· “Grace is unconditional love toward a person who does not deserve it. Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return. Grace is love coming at you that has nothing to do with you. Grace is being loved when you are unlovable….” Paul Zahl
All of these ideas can be narrowed down to the most common Biblical definition of grace: the “unmerited favor” of God toward man. To merit something means to earn or deserve it, so “unmerited” obviously means receiving something that was not earned or deserved. “Favor” is something good being given (e.g., kindness, help, love). In other words, we are called to take the initiative and do good to undeserving people—including ourselves. This is the grace believers are called to extend.
I truly believe for us to be able to authentically extend grace to others, we must remember God’s grace toward us. One of my favorite quotes on grace was penned by Billy Graham: “The motive of grace is the infinite, compassionate love of a merciful God, but the work of grace was the death of Christ on the cross.”
We must never forget the price that was paid for us to experience the unmerited favor of God. Grace is a gift.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8
When we truly grasp God’s grace in our own lives, it is easier to extend grace to others. As Christians we can provide a glimpse into the beauty of God’s grace when we extend favor to those who do not deserve it. Could we offer a cup of coffee to a colleague who has been hateful to us? Could we send a card to a parent that has been disagreeable? Could we praise a leader’s efforts even when we don’t agree with a decision? Could we extend a child a second chance or third chance to make a better choice? We all need a little grace.
I think one of the hardest things to do is to learn to extend grace to ourselves. Most educators have such high expectations of themselves. We feel an obligation to be all things for all students—which we know is impossible—but that doesn’t keep us from trying! How do we extend grace to ourselves when times are difficult, when we can’t fix the situation, when it feels out of our control? See if these words from Paul resonate with you.
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
Wow. You mean it’s okay to feel weak? To desire relief? The answer is a resounding “YES!” Extending grace to ourselves is a matter of letting go, allowing God’s grace to cover us when nothing else will. I know many of us have prayed for this pandemic to end, but here we are. Like Paul, you may be weary, hanging on by a thread. Let me encourage you. When we are weak, HE is strong. Let’s alter our perspective. Instead of being frustrated, angry, or defeated, we can see this as an opportunity to embrace God’s grace for us. We can allow the power of God to work through us so that we, too, can boast in our weakness. God has not abandoned us. His grace is all we need.
My new memory verse is 2 Corinthians 9:8. I’m holding onto this. You may want to, also.
And my God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.
So, do the best you can with the resources you have in your current situation. Don’t worry about not being able to fix it. Instead, extend some grace to yourself and others. Your heart and mind deserve it, and HE IS ABLE!