I clearly remember the first day of school last year. As I stood in the hall, trying to cheerfully greet the students, I met a lot of downturned eyes, avoidance, and emotional barriers.
I stood and walked the school halls for about an hour, and fully realized just how deep and pervasive a situation I was in. For you see, so many of those who live in abject poverty, stacked on top of generational poverty, there is a component of danger there. My kiddies had learned by living, two things that I now understand more. The first is that sometimes it is not good to be noticed. Sometimes you walk quickly with your head down because there is a very thin line between your life and getting caught up in some dangerous and scary situations. The second was, being too cheerful and open could be a sign of weakness. And in some neighborhoods, that sign of weakness could bring real trouble.
You might be thinking, these are just kids Sabrina, how can they possibly know these things. But, what I know is that the life lessons my kids have learned and the life rules that they live by are a strong code. And it takes vision, and help and strength to see that there are other ways of living.
At the end of the first day, I knew that I had a goal I wanted to accomplish. I wanted to work to help create a safe and caring environment at my school. I didn't care if I was the one saying Good Morning everyday. I didn't care if I had to stop a student and make sure I at least got eye contact. I was prepared to make the effort, because these were just children. And I didn't want to add any more weight to the unfairness that life had put on them. And as the days started going, and tentative smiles turned into hugs, I started to feel like a better person. It started to make me feel like the effort was worthwhile.
All of this comes flooding back to me, as I think about dismissal this Friday. I was sitting on the edge of the stage with a pounding headache. All my energy gone. And as the classes started to pass me to head outside, I noticed something. The script had been flipped. I was on the receiving end of sweet and sunny smiles. Hands came out to me for high-fives, and the hugs were literally demanded from me:)
This life is so interesting! Always changing, and requiring more of us. There was a time of desperate prayer a few months ago. Where I was just so sad and dejected by not getting what I wanted. And I asked and kinda demanded that God show me why he kept me here, because I just could not understand and my weary spirit wanted to give up. So, already I have seen positive changes, and I get it a bit. There is so much more to learn, but it is kinda like an adventure now, and helping build something good for these children makes my life feel fulfilled.*