Romans–Passionate Christian Theology
“If you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.” Romans 12, The Message
Teaching falls into this category every day. We never know what our students have endured before walking through the front door of our classrooms. Maybe no one was there to help them get up, get dressed and have something to eat. Maybe there is nothing to wear that is clean. Maybe there was someone there but they were drunk or hungover from last night’s drinking. Maybe there is nothing to eat in the house. Maybe someone was there but screamed at them, or worse, while kicking them out to the curb to catch the bus. Maybe the live in boyfriend or girlfriend resents their very existence and takes what little dignity they have left and grinds into the ground mentally and emotionally. Maybe they are tired from being up all night, caring for younger toddler siblings who cried all night because mom was out bar hopping to earn a few coins. My heart aches, (and still does because of my current teaching work). I can picture all of these students. Over the years of my teaching and even now, these students have faces and names.
This verse of few words speaks volumes to those who strive to be a difference in the lives of those who are cast aside, under nurtured, neglected or abused in many other ways. These are some of the disadvantaged. It is not always about having enough money. It is about the advantage that we can give of having a deep, unconditional love, acceptance and the secure feeling that no matter what, they belong to someone who cares for them. Just knowing this, students excel.
When disadvantaged students such as “the least of these” as Jesus talks about, get in your face or act out in other ways or are just very quiet, our response is not to get irritated but to genuinely love…with a smile on our faces. They are not “out to get you” they are fighting back at life as it is. We can give life or drain it with our response to their feelings of abandonment. To get depressed at their situation with a dose of pity thrown in demeans who they are and rips away at their dignity. Give life.
Our classrooms can be an oasis where fresh starts and big doses of different, safe environments of pure acceptance with respect for who they are as a student, an intricate, brilliant and needed part of the whole, is a better, healthier attitude. Over time, this student grows and thrives because we, as teachers, knew they would. We expected nothing less. Every student is valuable in the eyes of God, our Father. So, every student is valuable to us.
“If you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.”
Dear Heavenly Father, Your Holy Spirit has me in tears this mornng as I read these few words that cause me to remember many faces with names in hard circumstances. I pray for all of them now. Bless the children who have grown to be adults. Bless those who are still children in need of your touch, healing and others in their lives that will point them to You, the greatest Love of all. Bless, protect, provide, but most of bring Your salvation into their homes. And let it begin with me.
In Jesus Name, Amen