There is nothing like the hindsight and staggering realisation that months, years and life seasons have just transpired. That life is neither infinite nor unchangeable. And here I sit one Sunday afternoon to breathe it in. Because so many things are dawning. And there is nothing like the surprise wedding occasion that you never assumed you wouldn’t be invited to… to rinse you (me) in humility and a fresh remembrance that everybody else’s life is happening too. I forget people all the time, especially when my life is all about me. It is hard not just to think about what I, myself, am doing and trying to achieve. Alas, I forget others all the time. Those who were so close to me once upon a time, and who walked, rode and laughed with me, forgotten. I was/am so busy chasing my own dreams that perhaps I forget to thank them/you for being who they/you were, let alone for liking me and choosing to be friends. I don’t suppose it’d be easy to be friends with me, I forget people frequently. What a laugh!
But yes, I intended to talk about new seasons. There are so many exciting things on the horizon. That many things to be grateful for, which I may not expound on via blogging, for I fear this season too is coming to a close. Or at least a very slow crawl.
For now I write manuscript – which happens to be all over the place and various chapters (can you even call them chapters?) of a few sentences or perhaps even a few paragraphs. No particular order or even cohesion yet. But this is one horizon I have dreamt of for many years; yet lacked the discipline and driving desire to actually eventuate. Yet 2015 seems like a good time to make good on one dream at least, because we are dreamers – And to not live one of your many dreams would be a waste of life and very tragic indeed.
It seems I’ve forgotten how to blog.
There’s no poetry for this. This is the difficult task of living in today’s western society: where honour is rare and criticisms, rife. I’ve been challenged by Humility. Because there is no success in a society where every individual is unabashed about finding fault in every other. There is an epidemic of rudeness that has plagued the western culture, dictating the execution of respect and honour under the pretext of “freedom of speech”. This has erked me to no end, but particularly now, because I had been alerted that I too had been infected. Thus, to overcome my diagnosis of poison, which cripples one’s ability to see beauty in others (Imago Dei), I thought to write a (by no means exhaustive) list for healthy perceptions of those above you, sort of as a doctor might prescribe to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Here is my understanding of (the Biblical definition of) Humility: where love and respect is awarded to another human being, just for being a human being; and said love and respect gives preference to such other over oneself, because that’s what Jesus would do/did.
How to Honour Those Above You, When You Think You’d Do A Better Job
(if you could relate to the title, you have the same issues as I = you need some humble pie)
- Share your strategies (as suggestions) in ways that don’t make you superior.
- Back those above you, in their decisions, and talk to them if you don’t understand it.
- Pray for them.
- Do what leadership suggests and do it with excellence (without an ounce of complaint).
- Thank God that you don’t have to be in their position, because it’s more work than you realise.
- Write down your ideas/dreams and use the time spent not yet executing them, to refine them.
- Check yourself to see if your desire is for those above you to succeed.
- Ensure that the words you are speaking of your leaders would bless them and anyone else you talk to about them.
- Realise that faithfulness and commitment is more valuable to a team than believing you have a better way of doing things.
- Thank them for everything they’ve done because they’ve lead in such a way that got you to a point where you will succeed them in one way or another.
- Take them out sometime to appreciate/honour them and enjoy their company as a person, not a position above you.
- Remember: Jesus had to endure 30 years of knowing He was better qualified than any above him, but rather than give up/change church/complain, he spoke when it was His time and not a moment sooner.
- Don’t mistake having to work hard as an abuse of freedom. Every part of this kingdom toils for the cause of Christ, if you have a weekend, access to the internet and time to read this, you have much more free time than a billion other kingdom harvesters, who continue to work relentlessly.
- Forgive quickly – none will escape being let down/disappointed by somebody above them. Remember we are all human, we are a body, and we can turn failures into learning when we exercise grace and forgiveness as a matter of urgency.
I think that’ll keep me busy enough for the moment. If anyone thinks of other ways to learn humility, then please, let me know – or challenge if one of my ideas if you don’t think it works! Please don’t misinterpret this as my latest set of commandments, but rather a checkpoint to review my heart, whenever I think my voice should be louder than one of my authorities’.
There wasn’t the time to even comprehend regret. It started as a thought and the second I’d agreed with the idea, I was flying through midair summersault crying out in surprise and with no time to anticipate how to brace myself from the catapult. Drawn with great magnetism to the edge of the asphalt track, I connecting with the unrefined concrete. My face grazed shallowly against the path, thanks to the chunky helmet that I had reluctantly begun the journey with. Still the head banging (twice that I recalled) ricocheted confusion. Almost simultaneously, there entered with heavy intrusion, the means of all this pain, the silver frame of my father’s bicycle. Instinctively, I tried to lift myself from this position of pain, but after an exhausted attempt to free myself from the collapsed metal atop of me, I gave up and my body groaned with overall displeasure. Alas, I waited a torturous ten seconds or so while my husband ran over to me to collect my damaged body and defend my legs from merciless mosquitoes.
Since then, it’s been three long days between roundabout appointments, waiting and wishing for morning because this is the least I’ve enjoyed sleep. This said, I do feel a little stronger each day, regarding pain threshold and resolve wise. It was diagnosed as a hairline fracture along the left arm radial head and neck – amongst grazes and impressive bruises. I felt relief for being a sook over a fracture (though I never cried about the pain); if it were only a sprain, I might be accused of being rather weak. Weakness. Ahh, that nemesis of mine whom I both love and loath. I’ve been perpetually confronted with most manners of weakness these last few days: physical pain, uncertainty, self-pity, feelings of inadequacy, requiring help for menial tasks, tiredness, the thought of being burdensome upon the love of my life, having a shorter fuse, and being very slow, etc…
Yet, how much my spirit has heaved relief at the very obvious reminder that I am not invincible, nor was I ever independent of anyone. It also forced patience to begin that painful work of accepting with grace those unable to meet “normal” expectations – namely myself this time. It also gave a noticeable leap to that challenge within me to make the most of every scenario. It seemed that when I had finally begun to enjoy and rest in the slowing down, it was almost immediately that Hectic revved up and I found myself dreading my usual schedule – exhausted. My emotions have been achingly unpredictable. However, I think now I have embraced this fracture to my norm. After all, apparently, bones will never break in the same place twice, because once recovered, are stronger than before – I take it this applies to life also.
My latest cerebral celebration is the growing determination to need to overcome. Thoughts about learning every way to be single-handed for the next few weeks/months. I’m still rather proud of being able to satisfactorily and quite quickly tie my shoelaces with my right hand, alone.
My imagination falls short of what I know this experience is going to teach me. But I am incredibly humbled and anticipating epiphanies of how blessed I am to have, well, everything and everyone in my life. At this early stage of recovery, I am already amazed at my exceptional husband, friends and my students who excited tell me they’ve been praying for me. I mean, it really isn’t that bad a deal to have a hairline fracture that doesn’t require plastering, in my unpreferred arm. Perhaps because I’m not one who usually gets sick or stays injured, that this sudden “surprise” really had me evaluating myself and why I was taking it the way I was.
A quote I’ve retained from one high school was “with weakness comes understanding”. I think my definition of weakness is being recalibrated. It isn’t weakness having a part of your body not work effectively, it’s a strength learning how to be resourceful and creative enough to compensate for it without complaining. I’m learning that to endure lack without complaint is never weakness, it is the quiet and solid strength that I admire in others.
I can say this now after pouring my unfamiliarity with pain all out to God who replied with overwhelming peace, assurance and smiles. I’m not going to be naive in thinking the hardest part is over in this session of fracture, though I’d like to think the hardest part is over. I’m just grateful that the learning never stops, the loving never stops and I am safe wherever I am, however I am.
There’s that restlessness again. That infringement on my sense of entitlement. That unresolved dream that you always wanted… until you got it.
Here’s my internal wrestle. On one hand, I defend my right to have a lazy night. I’ve done my work, I’ve worked hard during today’s nine to five, and well, and it is my right to dwindle my remaining hours of the today, on nothing.
Though a tiny voice is beginning to awaken : you wanted this, this is what dreams look like – investment, making the most of every moment, not living for yourself, growing pain.
You know what’s annoying? Realising that dying to yourself is a pretty ugly thing to swallow, and it doesn’t come naturally. Sometimes the self-preservation in me just doesn’t want to have anything to do with most people. Yet I’m susceptible to the “save the world” concept, albeit “save the world with minimal moves”, or when I’m tired I may flush the “save the world” under with urgency to save my world.
Yeah. I cannot comprehend what this dream is actually going to turn into. I used to think I had an idea, but not anymore. This is my blank scrabble tile – any word, score or possibility could result; and over this next year, I’ll be seeing what other scrabble letters I’m dealt or get to choose. Then I’ll have to be creative in rearranging that which I have, for the best possible outcome.
One day I’ll write a book and I won’t be so vague.
I’m learning about peace. About what it means to place all my uncertainty and trust in God.
I’m trying to learn about what it means not to get offended and what it means to pray a tiny little bit more.
I think I’m beginning to taste the eventual joys about letting oneself shrink; being curious about how God would allow growth in imperfection.
I am learning about how God likes the little people who don’t know how to do things. As He usually likes to do things differently from the people who think they know how to do things anyway.
I’m beginning to enjoy the stories from the Bible again like a child having discovered an adventure novel in the adult non-fiction section of literature.
…and I’m totally enamoured by my husband who inspires me all the time because he can’t get his head out of this particular adventure book.
This is peace.
It seems that life has keep me busy enough to have not been keeping up with social media and the blogosphere. Sometimes I’m tempted to flash up envy-worthy photos of my life, because I’ve had the time of my life and I’ve never enjoyed living so much before… but then I never get around to it and I try to remind myself that I don’t need people to think I’m cool for me to enjoy life to the full. I honestly don’t know when I’ll next write, because everything is happening at the same time in brilliant ways, so here’s my life :
I’m into my third month of marriage. Aside from loving everything about my new life with this madman, I’m trying to be watchful not to make life into too much of a routine, or take it for granted. Because routines and complacency go hand in hand, and this incredible relationship with my husband is much too precious for me to leave in the hands of autopilot. Yes, I hear the smirks of older couples saying “just you wait”. But I’m not waiting, I’m acting now to try to teach myself from the beginning, how to live each day as it’s own and not as a carbon copy of the week before. Sounds like something people start to say when things start feeling older. But I don’t ever want to feel like things are getting old, ordinary and dull. It’s almost a phobia. Even though our life and love together is “new” and nothing yet is quite old or settled, I still try to think of new ways to tell my man I love him. I’ve wondered before if I’d ever use up all the “new” too early and run out of ideas by the time I’m forty – but I trust that we are as creative as our Creator; and remind myself that the thought of living a boring life is ridiculous and definitely avoidable. Love has been around for as long as forever and surely there are enough new things to discover about it and to express it by that will exceed a lifetime of enjoyment.
I’m learning that every part of this “moving out” learning process is time consuming and a little tiring. I still haven’t completely moved out of my parents’ house and need to clean out that old room that reeks of adolescence and clutter. Learning to keep a little house in order and clean, also time consuming. Oh, and the cooking! Learning is slow, though steady – how I admire my mother. Lo, having a grateful and encouraging husband helps plenty!
We’ve been talking on health this year and I think it might take years to learn and establish healthy lifestyle trends. Healthy eating, exercising, well resting… on top of a healthy prayer life and social life. Of course, having just got married, the next step is to expand our family of two, right? Don’t start spreading rumours, it probably won’t be immediately (there is too much for me to learn). I’m not keen on bringing a child into the world without first knowing that our lives are at their healthiest and that we are well practiced in living life optimally. So that when it comes to teaching said lifestyle for a quick little learner, it’s going to be easily reiterated by the example of our own lives. I’ve never been that healthy before – but I’m excited about being.
Then there is social life – and I presume this will take a little time calibrating. Because two have become one, we have to be smart in how socialising fits, because we can’t really maintain doubling in social events. It helps we have overlapping friendships, but uni days are over and I can’t spend every night out with everybody else anymore!
Lastly, this has been a large part of my thoughts today – children. I have children, none of them “mine”. Something I’m learning about is how much you need to care about children to work with them to achieve everything that humanity hoped would ever be accomplish – which I would fall short of on my own. This year, my scope of children to care for and be responsible for has widened to an uncomfortable many. Sometimes I’m amazed that so many people trust me. Other times, I’m amazed not everything has fallen to pieces when left with me. And through all my years of working with children, volunteering and having bursting ideas of how to change the world… it is now that I feel least ready. I felt more ready when I started, and now I’m really learning what it takes – and I’m not in any hurry to jump headlong into it – though the opportunity now arises. But maybe that’s why the time is now, because as I’ve grown a little more into adulthood, I feel more like a child staring at life’s playground with one handful of ideas and another hand holding mine.
But bring on the playground, the falling down, the getting up, the swinging fast and high and the walking around and watching others play. Bring on the playing with old friends, making new friends, getting scared and getting over it. Bring on learning to share or protecting and looking after special things. Give me the chance to prove you wrong or right but smile up to your ears.
There is no other way to explain it – the only way I will make it through 2014 laughing and triumphant, is if Jesus existed, liked me and chose to help me with absolutely everything in life. Because looking at it now, it could have swallowed me by now. But even if it does, this time next year, at least I’ll be able to tell you what the inside of a whale looks like.
Happy New Year, friends.
Do something stupendous with your life this year…
and tell a great story – and if you can’t find somebody to listen, tell me!
The dilemma is whether to sleep or… not sleep. I lose myself sometimes, and I don’t even know what I thought about, or if I thought about anything.
Right now, the wisest thing to do is sleep. But I’ll be honest, nine days out from walking down the aisle and I finally know what it is to have restless nights. I never have problems sleeping and will black out usually 64 seconds after my head hits the pillow and my eyes close. And that still applies in crazy moments like now, so I just don’t go to bed till it’s past my bedtime (11:30pm) and accept the repercussions, like delirium.
It’s everything all at once. The remembering what we still need to prepare, the packing my things into bags and boxes, the letting go of childhood sentiment, the daydreaming about the big day. A big part of it is the packing. I didn’t think it would be this emotionally exhausting packing my life to start up again. Gee, it’s ridiculously refreshing throwing out the many things that I collected and cared about as a child, that don’t really hold that much value. It’s nice to know that I care less about “stuff” now. The toys I liked, the things I used to think were cool, the broken things I refused to throw out – they aren’t coming with me.
But neither is the family that I live with now. I mean, I’ll visit – but that’s exactly it… it’ll be a visit. I can’t really imagine what it’ll be like. I try to. I don’t get very far.
I have nothing really to say here. I just want to ramble and sit and stay awake. There is a lot of excitement, but there is a lot of weight too. This is a big deal. I’ve never made this large a life decision before. I’ve never been this far away from family and I’ve never lived with this man I’m about to marry. It’s all starting to sink in, and I just want to think about it for a whole day, uninterrupted by work, wedding planning, this or that. I just want to sit and think and be blank and do nothing “productive” because I just want to take it all in. But I know that’s not possible and that’s OK, and it’s probably why I’ll sacrifice my sleep for a few nights because I need some time. I really need this time.
I’m getting married.
I’m not going to be a Fong anymore.
I’m going to have somebody other than my parents looking after me.
I’m going to have to look after myself and my husband.
I’m really starting to appreciate my last days as a “child”. I know, I know, twenty four year olds probably shouldn’t identify themselves as children. But marriage really is saying goodbye to childhood. It’s different. It’s different. I take none of this lightly. I am leaving the umbrella of my parents and opening up my own, and I’ll start taking care of a whole new family, raising them to get further than me in life and to do greater things.
My life is full of love.
So. Much. Hallelujah.
I’ve battled lately with many injustices. It seems as though there has never been a time where I have been so offended by the world – in its distasteful rituals and popular stupidities. Suffice to say, it had begun to weigh me down, heavily – sinking my joy and hurting my heart. It doesn’t help either, to have a memory that reverberates alarm bells that don’t have an off switch and erupt too frequently. It’s been a little torturous to watch those I love fill their heads with uselessness, caring about inanimate objects and disregarding people, thinking “it’s not that bad” that so many children are robbed of irreplaceable values and spoilt of worthless things. It scares me that character is secondary to exteriors and that the idols of children and adults alike aren’t usually the most wonderful people on the planet, grateful of life and who purpose to represent love. I’m quite torn to be in a “free” country where the government speaks horribly of whoever else wants to govern and where the people have little/no respect for leadership, or each other. And the list goes on.
I’ve been greatly offended by how things are because I’m a dreamer. Growing up, I believed the world could be a better place. I used to think that people wanted the best for each other and would protect each other from harm. I still believe that, I’m just continually shocked when that’s not the case.
But thinking this way is killing me. It is taking a toll on everything in my life, being constantly in pain and up in arms about the inexhaustible injustices that reoccur universally very, very often. It really only occurred to me this morning how stupid it is for measly me to try to solve these infinite issues in my head or let it make me sick to the bone, all the time. My gut churns every time I read something that horrifies me – abuse, neglect, selfish agendas, ignorant falsities – especially regarding children. Especially when I realise that children are growing up in a place that values selfishness and to protect themselves they too must be selfish and take advantage of each other and let the opinions of others govern their lives. I tell you, I get heartburn every time I listen/watch/read the news, which is why I now avoid the stuff.
I can’t carry this by myself. I am one 24 year old who is already beginning to tire of relentless heartbreak. Even the joys in my own life (know that they are enormous): upcoming marriage to a very incredible man, the wonderful children I get to work with, the amazing people who surround me, the excitement about life… even they cannot outbalance the violations that I know happen around the world. This is not the way to live. I cannot sustain my offence without it taking me out and calling me another victim. That is not how to win a war against the evil in this world.
And that’s exactly what this is: this is war. I’ve begun to see more and more how good wars with evil and as viral as evil is, good will still always prevail, albeit it not appearing that way. I’m beginning to realise that to be overcome with offence by injustice is only going to riddle me with pain. You cannot fight an enemy by being constantly wounded, nor by being afraid of it, and crying that it should never have happened. You fight evil with good. You fight selfishness with love. You fight weakness with smiles. You fight deception by knowing surely, who you are.
All I needed to know was that it wasn’t ever my job to fight for the planet, it is my job to live with love in my vicinity. What relief it brought me to remember that of course there are millions of others who are also living love, effectively winning battles on injustice. It wasn’t ever my own heart that broke easily. In fact, if I look back – it was me who asked God if I could know even a fraction of his heartbreak for the world. Hence, now I have somewhat an understanding of a fraction of what God feels about dear Earth and every child. Spoiler alert, this war – crazily enough, has already been won. Good has already prevailed, love has already dashed evil.
The battle was never about who would win. Because as seemingly “close” as it all seemed to ordinary eyes, it wasn’t a close battle. Love always won, and always won by a mile.
The battle wasn’t over who would win. It was over you.
We are fighting for you, from every child to every elderly on the planet. Because Love has won the war, we just want to make sure Love has won you too.
Alas my domain is right here, Melbourne, right now, and as long as I’m grounded here, I (and my husband to be), are going to be trying to win you to love.
I couldn’t be more happy to let God fight my battles for me, and I’ve found freedom in realising I need not be offended by the world! Rather than being crippled by the stories of cruelty and ruins in humanity, I carry on by giving it to God in prayer and continuing to live as best I can with love.
I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do
This madness is snowballing in the most ridiculous, incredible and almost overwhelming ways!
Never have I felt so enthralled, rushed and happy-scared in my life. As though I were waiting for this wave, lying patiently on a surfboard as the greatest wave I’ve yet to have seen wells behind me. And having turned around and started paddling, the wave urges my board onwards and I try my hardest to stand to my feet and keep balance as the momentum gains and I find myself gliding in awe to the shore.
Sure, 82 days mightn’t sound like a very short time for you. But when there are only 40 days until the next school holidays and each working week flies because children move fast and every weekend until then has been planned for. When those two weeks of school holidays will be heavily spent in painting and moving things into the humble abode my husband-to-be and I will call our home. And amidst trying to plan for teaching, and a wedding and honeymoon, I’ve got to train for that half marathon I stubbornly signed up for in October.
Needless to say, I have more on my plate than normal and the only way I will survive it all very well is by the grace of God!
In the next five days… I’ve got to write an article for the local paper, prepare for this coming sunday’s kid’s church lesson, get back into marathon training, hand over my teaching roll and train up another, complete my VIT application, meet with a couple of wedding prep people, volunteer at the church’s community feed and find time for one date-night midweek. I’m a little dizzied by the week already but every time I start to lean towards anxiety, I run quickly into the arms of a saving God – whom none of this phases. And even when seemingly time poor, while wondering very curiously how everything is going to be paid for, somehow I lack nothing. Somehow there is enough time/money/love to go around. Somehow I am still richer now than I ever have been. The amazing part is that the peace grows every day to swallow the mounting responsibility and ambition that I seem to accumulate.
It appears to me that one can become climatised to madness. I’ve testing that if you often give occasion to your feet to hit the ground running, they will become used to doing so. I tell you, with clumsy feet like mine, apparently all things are possible. It probably helps being in love with a madman whose life is also very very full, who is also extremely ambitious and endlessly encouraging, supportive, constructive and a man who inspires me to run to keep up with him. This life is crazy, and something would be wrong if it wasn’t. This love is mad and it keeps me alive and fighting. This light is refreshing and hope never ceases.
I could wish that everybody tastes madness in life – the good kind, where you can barely understand it but love every moment about it.
I would hate to be overwhelmed by the craziness of this world; to be disheartened and afraid. Peace is my salvation and a ferocious love guards me from the harshness of uncertainty. I am certain that I am safe. I am sure that good comes from every circumstance. Freedom is mine and I am loved.
It exists. It really does.
This harassment had exceeded a month. The boy had merely inquired of the situation and the reward. But since the response from the army had been so dry and the tension so taught, even slight words had reached the king, reverberating like the slight pluck of a harp string. Anyone who had inclined anything resembling interest concerning the battle was quickly relayed to the King… And in his desperation, the King sent for a boy. Something in him wondering if a simple boy might bring something of a fresh perspective to the battle lines.
On arrival, the king soon found the rumours true – that this boy had a strange arrogance about him that gave him a ridiculous confidence – almost offending him. However, the kid spoke of an impressive first two fights. So the king, in his delirium about the loosing battle, let him go his way. He almost humoured himself, that of all the grown men with different strategies, a boy had the most confidence. Alas, to the despair of the rest of the army, he sent the boy.
Between first hearing the overwhelming challenge and being summoned by the king, the boy had thought a thing or two through regarding battle strategy. Both his previous opponents had been stronger, bigger and fiercer than him – yet he had still prevailed. He was keenly aware of what elements offered advantage and his cunning had taught him to eliminate the others’ before they were used. The most vulnerable and valuable sense for most fighters (often taken for granted) was that of sight. The boy knew he would be greatly helped by blinding any opposition. Other than that he relied on his accuracy and speed – he mostly used the strength of others against them. But this was the most threatening of enemies yet.
He had just fitted and unfitted himself with the King’s armour – which when worn had completely stripped him of all his strengths. He was better without it. He politely declined the king’s helpless gesture. Now the giant man approached him with scoffing and ridicule. The words didn’t phase him, he’d grown accustomed to such reproach from his older brothers. It was merely when his God was mocked that he was filled with fire. The brute came with heavy thuds, clanking armour, a wicked laugh and a roaring audience. The boy heard only the throbbing of his own heartbeat in his ears.
He scooped up a good five stones within the next seven steps and had slipped them into his shepherd’s bag without needing to look at them. And having believed wholeheartedly that the promises he’d been given had every reason to be fulfilled (and because his future depended on their being a nation to rule), there was everything to gain.
48So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. 49Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth.
Though believing somehow that God would make the impossible possible, he could hardly believe it was that easy.
He had actually aimed for the giant’s eye… (but that part wasn’t recorded).
(I must admit I like the idea that God uses our misfires to hit His bulls eyes because what we aimed for was a little off anyway)
I’m starting to realise that I’ve found the children we’ve always dreamed about. My classroom is filled with them. And it took me 6 months to realise it! The mad ones, the crazy ones and the ones who used to annoy me. Yes, they come in all sorts.
I’ve started to see my struggling readers as the future best-selling authors, and my struggling times-table memorisers as future engineers and inventors. My frequent scribblers are actually emerging artists and film makers. My loudest voices are only twice as loud as the others’ because they’re probably made to represent the voice on behalf of so many others without one. Those who are always out of their seats (constantly without permission) to ask endlessly if they can help with something are probably unconventional healers of the community who aren’t concerned with the unwritten rules of the “proper way of doing things” and very persistent. My classroom jokers are the ones who will most understand how temporary life is here and will not let a day pass without joy (and sharing it). My extra sensitive ones will be the forecasters of events. My rough and tumble ones will be the bravest in the harshest times. The girls who don’t stop reading will be so full of admirable stories that they will have no problem living their own. My rowdier ones will be the stirrers who aren’t afraid to challenge tradition – qualifying what is or isn’t worth continuing. My ‘little police’ are going to be the pioneers of accountability and the whistleblowers of injustice. My incomplete homeworkers are some of the most honest, and won’t be afraid of being transparent with their struggles to help others in theirs, not to mention learning the weight of responsibility, cause and effect.
I suppose you never need to look far to find the children we want to lead the future… and the now, if we let them.
These little people are going to change the world. It is rather silly of me to think any less of them than the best of them. They just need a little refining! They already have what they need; they’re already beginning to exude who they are and the good they’re capable of. Now to believe they’re all exactly the people the world needs to heal and fight for good. They’re exactly the children I need in my life at the moment because they’re prompting some serious shifts of perspective!
Jesus, let me never think small of them!
It was 3:05pm when I walked out of the classroom with various worksheets ready to multiply into class copies in one hand and porcelain cup in the other (and bottle of tomato sauce under arm – today was lunch order day).
As I walked the freshly painted path along the perimeter of the classrooms, I imagined some canon in H major being played on an out of scene piano as I slow-motioned my way to the staff room. Smirking at my imaginary dramatisation of having paralleled today’s procession with fireworks going off in the grade three classroom, I breathed deeply and tried to refresh my perspective. I had to smile at my lack of understanding and the ridiculousness of children… and probably my inability to comprehend them. Sometimes they puzzle me so, and I just want to smile or laugh… but I have to do it in secret – lest they think I find their misbehaviour amusing. I don’t. I seriously don’t.
Yet I cannot help but wonder what the perfect classroom looks like – and for who? A teacher’s definition of perfect is most definitely different from an eight year old’s definition of perfect. I’m learning that I cannot control the classroom… and I don’t want to. I want to do it differently (I’m aware that this is a dangerous thought). What do I want?
I want absolutely respectful children to find joy in learning infinite amounts, to challenge themselves and continually rewrite their own personal bests; to accept good things and reject bad things; to be resilient and not petty; to love diversity and always play to each other’s strengths; to be confident enough to try and self-esteemed enough to not fear mistakes, instead learning from them; to learn the power of silence (in concentration, self control, and ignoring stupid things other children say); to know who they are… etc, etc. To put it short, I want a million things of children and expect that it is possible. But such expectation means that days like today can take a toll on such expectant hopefuls.
I’ve just discovered that the most terrifying and God-graceful thing about being a teacher is realising that of all the specks I see around the classroom… they are nothing on the log that I lug around and justify as “me”. It is amazing that I get to learn very humbling lessons from children without them knowing it, and not feel the pressure to change – I merely want to. How’s this for cool: the only thing these children don’t like about any of their teachers is that they get in trouble from them – there is nothing about any of us that they know to disapprove of. They don’t tell us to change, they don’t tell us what we should be. They get to teach us without either of us even knowing it most of the time.
I am no more perfect than they – perhaps a tad more experienced and matured (one could hope). Alas I come to the end of myself here. I am realising almost all of my weaknesses in this grade three classroom. I’m learning more about myself and my ways of dealing with problems (and them) and how effective they really are. If anything, these children are schooling me on how humanity acts and reacts in various circumstances (myself included). They are merely shorter and more honest representations of adults.
They’re changing me, little by little, these eight year olds are hitting something very close to my heart. Perhaps they’re actually hitting my heart; because, of every person in my life, they know how best to irk me without even knowing it. They also know how to make me smile and chuckle to myself without knowing it. They make me wonder about them without even knowing it. They make me sad when their families are in a rough patch, without me knowing that I’m sad until another teacher asks me why I look sad. They make me proud of them for the simplest things. Their habit of stating the obvious make me want to cry and burst out laughing simultaneously. Today I got a classic, “Miss, you look very angry”, and with five spoken words, one ridiculous girl broke my anger (but I made sure not to smile because I was trying to get a point across).
I suppose this is a rant/boast about the ins and outs of the best job in the world. People who find out I did kindergarten teaching and now primary look at me with respect and tell me I must have a lot of patience. I suppose I’d like to think that I have. But secretly, working with children requires much less patience than working with adults and never ceases to reward.
Interestingly, I’m finding it harder to be social with adults than I am with children – unless the adults have something to do with children because anyone with anything to do with children could talk about children until their voice gives out.
Towards the end of my frazzled day, my conversation with the bus girls entailed excited stories on the many methods and experiences of losing teeth. It was really good conversation! You just don’t really have those kinds of conversations with grown ups who’ve forgotten the joys of each process of growth.
I’ll leave you with this – of all the people with the most patience in the world. These children, though they may get impatient about the petty things, are the most patient with the most important things. And you know patience by abilities to forgive. Children forgive easily. And knowing that I can come to school each day and as long as I smile in the morning, these children are going to smile back (bigger) – regardless of the detentions I may have had to distribute the day before – makes it easy to love my job.
They are good to me, these children. Even if they aren’t always “good”.
With networks like facebook, and exagerations of friendship circles, it’s no wonder we are bombarded with the lives of others – we chose to be. What’s more, with supposedly 802 friends, statistically I shouldn’t be surprised when news comes that one of them just died this morning.
I haven’t seen him in person for at least three years, and I knew him very little, but still there’s a distance sadness that comes with not knowing what happened and that life was lost “early”. I won’t pretend that I’m mourning somebody I hardly knew, or that I need any sympathy. I think what’s shocked me is the reminder that death happens and our time here is not at all guaranteed until the age of 70, which we mindlessly assume; being young – that we will get the opportunity to grow old. I suppose, there’s also the shocking reality that I have a stupendous amount of “friends” on facebook, yet one has died and I don’t know how, and the other week I was introduced to another that I was supposedly “friends” with on facebook – and I didn’t know her until tracing back relationships. I even have a personal policy that I will not accept friendships with people I’ve never met – yet still I don’t know most of these people.
Of the time I did know this late friend, what he contributed to my news feed was mostly loneliness and crudeness. I don’t know which is sadder, that he died young, or that it seemed like he had more friends after he’d died than while he lived.
Aside from broadcasting our own boasts of how great our own lives are, photos and all, perhaps we should take all the necessary meaning of being “friends” with them and totally remember them while they live. Just saying.
The cashier watched me curiously as I tried pathetically to look like I had a purpose for loitering around the front of the small local grocery store. My eyes flittered across the lolly selection, strategically placed at the front counter. Then walking to the lolly aisle, choosing a box of tictacs, I fiddled with it and then put it back; keeping a careful watch on the old guy with the walking stick at the far right corner of the little store. He had been talking to the staff stacking shelves for about eight minutes now and my restlessness was growing. I paced a little, walking the inside perimeter of the cool section and then into the alcoholic beverages area. I smirked, betting I probably looked about 16. In this time about seven others had walked in and out of the store and I sussed out each individual, trying to work out whether it was any of them. Blank. The only person I was keenly aware of was him, elderly Mr. Conversation. And with a sigh of relief, I heard him round up his stories with the stockist and watched him hobble his way down the breakfast isle, scooping up a small box of cereal in his stride.
He came behind me into what had thankfully appeared as a que for the single cashier. And as the man in front of me was paying, I turned around, sized him up and asked instinctively, “Do you need a hand?”
Standing awkwardly with walking sticking under arm, one bottle of tomato sauce in right hand, cereal in the other, he replied, “I’m about to fall over”, and my heart chuckled. Relieving him of his two burdensome goods and placing them on the counter, I finally met the eyes of the cashier and smiled, “I’ll take these for the gentleman.”
“Is that why you were hanging around here?”
“Well, he took so long talking.”
Mr. Conversation was getting his wallet out and his limited agility meant that I had swiped and smiled before he had realised. And as the cashier waved away his money, he stood there confused, looking to me, then the cashier and back again.
“Strangely enough, I was at home, and God told me to come here to pay for your groceries, so I ran here and waited for you” I said, still coming to terms with it in my own head.
“Oh God bless you, young lady! What would make you do that? Tell me your name. What school do you go to? You didn’t have to do that!…”
He reached over to take back his things but I drew them away, “Which way are you going? I can take them for you.”
And so began my wonderment for yesterday.
We walked slowly, granted, and in that space of time – about forty-six minutes – a new found friend had opened his life to me, made me smile, taught me about things I’d never heard about and sunned my spirit!
His name was Graeme and he was just over six foot, with a whole head of perfectly white hair. In my first two minutes with him, I’d learnt that he had an amputated toe (due to diabetics, and him not looking after himself as well as his late wife had). He told me about his bung knee and how it had pained him since 80, but his Hungarian walking stick had been a help. When I asked how old he was now, he told me 84, and I remarked “So you have your best years ahead of you!” To which, he knocked back his head and let out a trumpeting “AHAHA”, then almost embarrassed about that unexpected release of childish amusement, continued conversation as per composed 84 year old’s do.
Turns out he was qualified in economics but when that industry withheld occupations from him, he became a teacher – and never looked back. Working at several school in Australia and one in Singapore, we talked about schools, and Singapore. I learnt about his family; that his granddaughter wanted to be a ballerina, his daughter was studying at ACU to be a teacher, his father was an ANZAC and his great great (great?) grandfather was a nightpoacher who caught rabbits from private property and was shipped to Australia for his crime – from whence the family became Australian.
He told me fondly that he played bowls four times a week and had another game at 1:30 that afternoon, followed by a barbeque (which he’d bought the tomato sauce for).
He counted to ten for me in both Romanian and Serbian, and recalled to me the first time he’d heard Bahasa Malay, reciting “eighteen dollars” for me in the then local tongue (which I’ve of course forgotten by now). He gave me an insightful history lesson on Hungary, Anglican church origin and told me a little about his travels.
We finally approached his new little white car, which he described as the smallest car that could fit him. He even admitted he didn’t know if he’d still be driving after his current three year licence expired. We stood there talking for a good while longer, and my eyes tired with the brightness of the sky. But my smile wasn’t phased as he told me wonderful things. Wonderful, because he had a wealth of knowledge, a richness of stories and a humble sense of humour! Of every word he spoke, and every story he told me from his 84 years of life – there was not a word of complaint: no complaint about his diabetes, missing his wife, his sore knee. No pity for himself, no sorrow, nor regret or bitterness. Here was a man that I was very much beginning to love. He was sweet as well. Before he farewelled me, he insisted I kiss him on the cheek. Then suggestively leant his right cheek down to me, and I obliged, smirking that my 25 year old fiancé need not be threatened by my new 84 year old friend.
What character! Graeme, you beautiful heart, you!
– – – – –
Haha, I write this not to boast any good deeds, but to remind every young person that the most incredible characters are not unusually three times your age. Also to give testimony that love and care for even strangers – in the simplest of ways will do more good than you can know, enriching your life probably more than the recipient’s.
Where this is coming from: I’m beginning to learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Beginning to learn what it means. About how reciting the entire book of John will not change my life (or anybody else’s) unless I am serious about deciding to love those within my vicinity. And if more people on this planet would consciously love others, the population of humanity would actually believe in love and how wonderful it is (and it wouldn’t take believers so long to convince non-believers – and themselves – to believe in Love, because they’d encountered it before).
Here’s some suggestions, simple ideas that won’t put you out of pocket more than $3: when you go to the shops, buy an extra chocolate bar and then give it to the cashier, and thank them by name (they have nametags for a reason). In the coffee line of your usual cafe, buy the coffee for the person behind you. Write on the back of your restaurant bill and leave it for the waiter/waitress telling them how amazing they are (whether you ‘felt’ they were or not!). Just try to make it a way of life to love on those around you – without the condition of them knowing you or having to be nice to you!
I’ll cap it off with this, [for the crazy Christians out there:] at the end of my lovely moment with Graeme, I casually told him “You know your leg won’t be causing you too much trouble from now on”. Sure, I believe that Jesus heals, but I didn’t need to pray fervently at 90 decibels for it to transpire. What was very encouraging though, is that he believed with me; and just as a token, told me to touch his knee because he’d read stories where touching brought healing, so I did. Then we left it at that!
Haha, and yes, I know there is still an infinite amount of things I need to learn about love, real love, and how Jesus loves and sees every single incredible human being, and even every single horrible human being. Sure I’ve have my less than lovely moments, and people who I’ve grown impatient with. But I’m not going to stir you about who deserves love and who doesn’t. I’ve been told to love and that’s what I’m learning to do, I just had a cool story to share.
Mind you, not all love stories will go that way and they may not be that fun, but who knows, you’ll have to love to find out…
I’m sorry I took so long, but I’ve got a lot to tell you in only a few words. ‘Few’ because it’ll take too long to decide which words to use, not to mention not completely understanding the ‘a lot’ that is actually happening to me.
Something is happening to me.
There, I was frank.
As you may/may not have been able to tell by my last year of writing/bloggerneglect, I was stuck in a straight place for a long/short while (depends what you’d consider about a year – I can’t even measure how long it is). Despite life being great over my entire life, it was not its best. I’ve struggled with particular frustrations since I learnt how to think critically. Life was a love-hate thing which I tug-o-warred with.
And now, in my uncleverly gathered attempt at coherent explanation, I do, so much, want to tell you about how awkwardly life is being broken down for me into matters of importance.
The way I’ll tell you “something is happening to me”, I can only imagine describing to you in the sense that the world looks different from where I stand now. That, or I’m standing in a different place. And I’m not going to humour you with blah blah blahs on what might sound like my ‘state of enlightenment’, but all I know is that I’m discovering freedom. I’m tasting it.
I’ll be resolute in that I don’t want to forget it.
Truth is concrete and love is sand – go and rub some in your eyes and start realising the world differently.
That is all.
Ps: writing ability is actually secondary.