By Joann Clayton
She had moved back to our school in the springtime after an absence of several months.
“I’m so glad to be back in your class again,” and she threw her arms around me.
I soon discovered she had missed many important concepts, especially in math. So I took time during recesses to help her through the regrouping process.
She surprised me by asking if she could have extra practice papers. I was even more amazed when she brought them back the next day all perfectly done. When I displayed elation that she had mastered such difficult concepts so quickly, she replied: “I try to do the best I can, so I study and work hard!”
What an astonishing ideology for one so young, I thought. This 7-year-old had expressed a philosophy of life that would be good for people of any age.
Although things had not been the best in this student’s adjustments to new schools, she didn’t let that stop her from accepting what life was handing her. Her determination became stronger each day.
A few days before the Easter break I told the children to bring their colored eggs in a basket for our egg hunt. She brought her Easter eggs in a paper sack. I kept extra baskets just in case. She tried to give the basket back to me after the hunt, but I told her it belonged to her as a gift from me. Her voice said “Thank you,” but her eyes spoke of gratitude that far surpassed words … eyes filled with such admiration that I choked back tears.
Every day as I looked over my classroom, I shot up silent prayers for each of my students, praying they would be protected and shielded from hurts in their young lives.
All of us are in the classroom of life and we go through many stages: graduation, marriage, children, careers, empty nest and retirement. In each stage many lessons are learned. Some of those I didn’t learn the first time and had “to go around the same old mountain again.” Believe me, I would rather have learned the lessons the first time. Learning the hard way involves pain, yet it is in the valleys that we grow.
Each day presents lessons to be learned in this journey. Someone has said, “When you think you’re ripe, you’re really rotten.” In other words, “If you are still green, you’re growing,” learning from mistakes. We learn to grow in our jobs, relationships and hopefully, our spiritual lives. Learning to deny self and selfishness, we reach out to a hurting world.
Like that special little second grader in my class, I too, need to study and work hard. My teacher has provided the guidelines for my life in his “textbook,” the Bible.
I’m so glad to be in the Lord’s classroom. I’m thankful my teacher is on my side and teaches me how to overcome hurdles in my life: “Tell me in the morning about your love, because I trust you. Show me what I should do, because my prayers go up to you” (Psalm 143:8 NCV).
I’m glad that God’s spirit stays with me in the “recesses” of my life to help me and tutor me in the things I need to learn. What a way to live! I love this
“School of Life.” Every day with Jesus is a day of adventure and excitement.
When that final “bell” rings and my time in “Life’s School” is over, I will be graduating from “Life’s Classroom.” Like my student greeted me, I will greet Jesus with outstretched arms, saying, “I’m so glad I’m in your class!”
“Create in me a pure heart, God, and make my spirit right again” (Psalm 51:10 NCV).
Joan Clayton is a retired teacher and religion columnist living in Portales.