Strengthening Yourself

30 May




I walked up the steps to my third day teaching middle school.  I took the job in what is deemed a “hard to serve” setting, which means serving kids who do not have access to many of the resources; economically and emotionally that other kids do. Many kids were out side running around and playing ball.  Football to be exact.  I am a football coach.  It would stand to reason that I may have encouraged the boys to keep playing; or give them a coaching tip on arm slot while throwing; or catching the ball out in front of their body.  On this day, I was angry and irritated at 7:30 am because I faced a daunting day of managing these young people to completion of a daily educational objective that I could not communicate with ease to them, nor were they enthused about learning the English language.

As I walked up the stairs to the school; I got hit in the leg by an errant football throw. And, I yelled out to the boys,” learn how to throw the ball!” This event started a season of my life where I became mentally, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted.  My emotions were right at the surface and could be irritated easily.  At the end of a school day I was so mentally fatigued that I could not focus conversations with my family.  My wife, Carrie refused for this season to interfere with our family and our marriage.  She could see the weariness and frustration in my being. At that moment, I realized, it was time to strengthen myself.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I could look to scripture to read the hardships and anguish Jesus endured, which is my model for strengthening myself.  Many times, Jesus retreated to a place of prayer and contemplation out of the public eye to strengthen himself, and align himself with the will of the Father.  This practice helped me get started, helping me, help me”.  Every morning; before work, Carrie and I would sit in our little nook off the master bedroom and read morning meditations; specifically, for me the word of God.  After reading I would do 100 push ups in 10 minutes while listening to music.  Reading the Bible, especially, the epistles,  my heart started to change for my situation.  Doing 100 pushups in 10 minutes, helped get my body started and inspired a physical response that gave me strength.

These practices helped, yet, I still had to face the day, that included barriers, emotional weight, and unruly behaviors.  I had to change the climate my classroom.  By encouraging myself and strengthening myself, I started to become a source of encouragement and love for these young people; it had nothing to do with school or educational objectives.  Carrie and I delivered turkeys during Thanksgiving week to all of my students; there were 50 plus kids who signed up to receive them.  Delivering the turkeys to all of their homes, gave me a different perspective on the kids.  It gave me a sense of purpose led satisfaction that fostered more strength inside, so I could be a source (starting point) for these kids to experience care and vigilance.  For them to experience teaching to their hearts and maybe changing their minds.  I brought in a spread from Chic Fil A when we were able to get through a week’s agenda with minor difficulties.

We ended the year, by reading the book “Monster”. A story about a young man accused as an accomplice to a murder and his journey through judicial system and prison system.  After reading the book, we filmed our own re-enactment of the book in full costume.  The kids thoroughly enjoyed it!

By entering into the fire of my self pity gap, my pride gap, my control gap, I was able to strengthen myself through reliance on The Source of life, changing my perspective by serving and becoming a generating force for the lives of others.  This experience helped roots grow in this maturing Oak Tree.

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