Do you ever feel as if life is a classroom assignment and you are failing miserably?
I'm not talkin' about just barely making the grade here.
I'm talkin' about a Big Red-Letter "F" with a circle 'round it.
Today I feel like I'm failing.
When I was a teacher in the classroom, I had different types of students.
Those who exceeded expectations.
Those who squeaked by.
And those, in my professional opinion, who just didn't care.
So I understood the impetus for giving a letter grade from an educational standpoint.
If a student wanted to advance professionally in their skill set - for my students, this was as a singer and performer - they needed to understand the fundamentals of technique.
They needed to master their craft so as to bring beauty to an audience or pass on their expertise later in life as an instructor.
They needed to be ready to share their gift with the world so they could move forward on the next part of their journey.
The assignments I gave were necessary to accomplish that growth.
One of the life assignments I've been given, I've come to understand, is empathy.
God gave it to me in spades.
He expects me to give it freely...easy!
Moreover, I sense that He wants me to teach it...not as easy.
I learned so much about dealing with folks empathetically from watching one of my best teachers and models...my dad.
I watched the way he was kind.
I watched the way he spoke and made use of his hands.
I watched the way he loved and uplifted.
I've recounted here before my personal favorite empathetic line from him to me:
"Tell me what's troubling you child."
(Oh, what I wouldn't give to hear him say that right now...)
Following that question and my answer would be the most wonderful, inspired, faithful, Spirit-filled lesson.
Not a lecture.
A gift of words and understanding.
Anyway, back to my life assignment.
I'm beginning to understand those students who appeared in my classroom as if they didn't care .
Though they didn't want to do the work - they didn't try - maybe it wasn't apathy.
Maybe it was pain.
Or just maybe it was sheer exhaustion.
Today I'm tired of my assignment.
I'm in need of empathy, so I don't want to give it.
I'm desperate to feel it, so I don't have the energy to teach it.
Just for today (okay, I'm not gonna lie...I'd really like to say "just for the next week"), I'd like God to hand that assignment over to someone else -
then send them my way for good measure.
But that isn't the way it works.
He gives us our own individual assignments for a reason.
He doesn't want us to just understand the fundamentals of our skill set.
He wants us to grow in them.
He wants us to master our given craft.
He wants us to bring beauty...
gently pass along knowledge and understanding...
share our gifts with the world so we can move forward to the next part of our journey.
A journey that takes us to where He's waiting joyfully for us.
Oh, Lord, give me the grace to walk away from this Red-Letter "F" today.
Help me to honor the task you've given me.
I'll try my best to earn an "A."