Scary to say, I often drive home from work in a kind of numb state, my mind replaying my day over and over until I can put it to rest and refocus on getting home to my family. Tonight was no different, just later than usual. But this time I jolted myself from my numbness when I heard my voice say in the darkness, "I feel like I was sent to the principal's office today!"
What??? Me say that???
I did exactly what I see students do most times they get sent to my office . . . and I occasionally ask them why . . . why do they assume the worst? I see worried looks as they sit in the lobby. I hear their questions, "what did I do? am I in trouble?" They seem to associate the "principal's office" with something bad that must have happened.
I spend a good part of most days calling students to my office. I would love to say that most of the cases are for positive reasons: awards, appreciation, student initiatives, etc. But the truth is, more of the cases I deal with involve the need for restoration: a chance for the student to acknowledge actions or words which damaged the trust and health of the community and then an invitation for him/her to commit to making things right again. More often parents and students refer to this as discipline.
And no matter how good restoration sounds, discipline is painful. But interestingly enough, both discipline and restoration require similar heart attitudes: humility, honesty and courage. Too often, however, when we feel guilt or shame, we can only focus on the feelings of humiliation, violation, anger or distrust. I guess this is normal for our human hearts, but I know, in my head, it is unfortunate. As an administrator I always look to the potential good that can come out of such meetings, but it sure is hard to deal with in myself. Like the students, I can feel sick over having to expose or admit any faults or weakness.
I sure would love to take the rap off of the idea of "going to the principal's office." But I guess I learned tonight that I can't blame the students. Even I subconsciously make a negative connection. And, for the record, lots of good things do happen in principals' offices. So maybe I shouldn't feel so bad after all.
Words that haunt me through the night and hang around me in my waking hours . . . Lord, give me the words to speak and pray for those who ask these questions:
"How can I trust God when He did not save me from the abuse I endured as a child . . . where was He then???"
"Where is God now? I'm crying out for help and guidance and all I'm getting is rejection . . . what would you do if you were in my shoes???"
I remember . . .
Job, whose praise of God's goodness did not depend on his circumstances, rather was measured by God's faithfulness through all generations
Joseph, who chose to believe God's promises would come to fulfillment even during times when God seemed very far away.
Paul, who persevered in thanksgiving and continued in faith even through years of imprisonment and persecution.
Words and images of this song by Matt Redman keep running through my head:
Blessed be Your name In the land that is plentiful Where Your streams of abundance flow Blessed be Your name
Blessed be Your name When I'm found in the desert place Though I walk through the wilderness Blessed be Your name
Every blessing You pour out I'll turn back to praise When the darkness closes in Lord still I will say Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your name Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your glorious name Blessed be Your name When the sun's shining down on me When the world's all as it should be Blessed be Your name
Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering Though there's pain in the offering Blessed be Your name You give and take away You give and take away My heart will choose to say Lord blessed be Your name
reflections on culture and the human condition . . .
"For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."
I Corinthians 13:12