Second Friday in Advent: Patience?
“‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.’”
Patient endurance? I’m afraid my patience with my sixth-graders ended long before the final bell rang today. At the beginning of sixth period I told them that we had a lot of work to do and that we would all have to keep on task to get it done.
“There are two very important things we need to do before 3:30,” I said. “We need to finish making Christmas cards for our pen pals and we need to finish decorating the board.” My students cheered. Then they grabbed scissors, colored construction paper, glue and crayons and went to work.
For about fifteen minutes, it seemed as though things might actually go according to my plan. Everywhere I looked, students were cutting, coloring and decorating.
Then things started to deteriorate. B-Boy got up from his desk to wander aimlessly around the room. Two boys got into a “sword fight” with scissors. A threesome huddled around the one student computer that’s hooked to a printer. They said they were just taking a quick look for Christmas tree art to print, but the “quick look” quickly became forty minutes—at which point I shut down the computer. M-Boy decided that using the stapler was so much fun he started tacking staples all over the bulletin board as fast as he could. J-Boy began verbally harassing some of the girls and wouldn’t stop.
Finally, I’d had enough. I ordered the students to clean up immediately and return to their desks. “Do not get out of your seats until after the bell rings,” I said. (They never did finish the holiday cards to their pen pals.) I couldn’t wait to escort them out of the building to the waiting buses. As soon as I turned off the lights in my classroom, I left the school, muttering to myself, “I hate this time of year.”
I don’t really hate the days leading up to Christmas, of course, but all of the stresses of the week finally caught up with me and words of discouragement flew out of my mouth before I could stop them. I’m human. I get tired. I complain.
Fortunately, there’s One who knows me better than I know myself. He also knows the better self that sometimes gets buried deep within me. “I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance,” he says. “I know the real you, and that this was ‘just one of those days.’ If you will rest in My love over the weekend, you’ll be refreshed, restored and ready to return to your classroom Monday morning.”
What a gracious offer! And it comes to me not only during the days of Advent, but every day of the year.