I started back at school this week, working as a teacher's aide in a severe special needs class, high school level. Very challenging work, especially for the time of life I am in now. We are kept on our toes. By the end of the day, I am exhausted.
BUT...or should I say AND...
There remains many bits of joy found in these kiddos, their innocence, their beautiful smiles and giggles, their perseverance and humble spirits and acceptance to trust us with their whole day at school, away from parents and other care-givers.
Many are on the autism spectrum which interferes with communication skills. We seek ways to find out their needs as they develop unique ways to express theirs.
Grace, an important part of the curriculum, every day is a new day, a clean slate.
Last year, I developed a pretty special relationship with one of my senior kiddos. A bit attached, I'd just like to say, we bonded. His behavior quite improved, he developed an obsession with volcanoes. (probably watching the one in Hawaii on YouTube) Every day he wanted to talk about them and read about the lava, so I indulged him a bit. Towards the end of the school year, I brought some real lava rocks from my own collection and gave them to him.
He was intent on leaving them in the hot sun so they could remelt. He wanted to reverse the process.
This year, while still on my campus, he is now in a different classroom, a transitional class.
He is having a difficult time. All week, he bounds off the bus in the morning, spots me, gives one of his famous hugs, towering over me with his 6 feet plus frame, gets a bit teary-eyed and says..."I want you back!"
All week his new teacher gave him behavior goals. His reward? He could trek across campus and visit me on Friday, if and only if, he met his goals which included not asking to go visit me every second and getting upset when he was told no.
The time to clean-up and head out for a Friday of the first week of school approached, and my buddy did not show up. I sent a text to one of his teachers.
"He lost his privilege because of his behavior. He is working for next week now."
Sometimes, we cannot reverse the process. No cure for autism, no leaving rocks in the daylight will turn them back into lava. We take the beauty that became from the process and learn from it, share it--treasure it. I know this all too well.
Then there are those times when God and life tell you it is time to move on, make new discoveries and experiences...GROW and learn more. When we do that, our obedience to God pleases Him. We are rewarded.
We miss the old, but those memories will always be precious. It is, of course what got us to a place of success to be able to make a transition.
Then, there are those days, those weeks...sometimes the very moments when we need a do-over. There in lies the GRACE.
There in... the accepting and the learning and relationship--there in, the trying and the dreaming and the hoping--there in, the undoing and redoing... the try-agains and the frustrations in our humaness, grace pulls us through. We get back on the bus and try again.
God says loud and clear to us..."I WANT YOU BACK!"
And GRACE says, you don't need to wait until next week because I AM (the Lord) ready for you to bound off the salvation bus and receive your hugs right now.
Thank You Lord, it is all about relationship. Only Your Perfect Love can melt away all our imperfections and make us brand new, trusting in each new mountain ahead of us. Thank You that we can come to You with child-like faith and grow through are "behaviors" to see more of You. Thank You that we can come to You, just as messed up as we are and Grace already prepared the way for that special visit. I love my kiddos, they bless me in so many ways. One day, all of us will be made perfect singing and shouting, bounding and flying---with glorious words, Your Grace that brought us back, back Home.