Advent: Day 8
Psalm 37:8, Revised Standard Version
In any given day in my classroom, I can find plenty of things to be angry about.
J-Girl and C-Boy are chattering and giggling together in the back of the room as I try to show the class how to write haiku.
For the fifth day in a row, N-Boy comes to class unprepared. “Can I have a pencil?” he asks.
S-Boy won’t stay in his seat for more than five minutes at a time. Then he jumps up and starts wandering aimlessly around the classroom, poking at the computer keyboard or rummaging through my desk drawer.
Sometimes these kids get under my skin. Sometimes I feel like venting my wrath. But will it do any good for me to get angry at my students?
Will my anger change J-Girl and C-Boy from chatterboxes into quiet, serious scholars? More likely they will become sullen and resentful.
Will my anger convince N-Boy that he should come to class with pencil and paper in hand? More likely he will figure out a way not to come to class at all. There are plenty of hiding places in the building for the student who wants to play hookey.
Will my anger change S-Boy, who has ADHD, into a student who sits in the same spot from bell to bell without moving a muscle? More likely he will become even more hyper.
The psalmist knew that the venting of anger and wrath is likely to unleash evil into the world, so he strongly counsels his readers: “Refrain from anger and forsake wrath!”
During the season of Advent, God shows us once again that the way of love is more effective than the way of anger.
May God help me to remember, not only during Advent, but every day, that refraining from anger in my classroom is wisdom, for human relationships grow and flourish when wrath is set aside.