Lessons in Teaching

teacher-crush

I’ve started substitute teaching every other Friday while I finish up my teaching certification, and I already feel like I have some battle scars. Little kids say adorable things, but young adults say deplorable things.

A few weeks ago, I observed a 9th grade math class. I started talking to one of the boys near my desk in the brief moments before the bell rang. I don’t remember what we discussed, but I must have made some kind of impression because thirty seconds later, he asked me, “Are you sure you want to be a teacher? You seem too smart to be a teacher.”

It’s exactly this stereotype of teaching being a “less than” career option that made God have to spend 7 years humbling me in Corporate America before I would consider investing in young lives through teaching.

In another classroom, one of the boys called out in the middle of a lesson, “Did you just graduate from college? You look like you’re still in high school!” They thought I was 21 and were shocked to learn I am 29. Me too, kid. Me, too.

Evidently the physical appearance of a mere 5 year age gap was acceptable because, armed with the knowledge of my ancient-ness, one of the sophomore running backs promptly invited me to his Homecoming football game later that night. I politely declined.

Then last week, my 8th grade math class found out that I already participated in early voting and wanted to know which presidential candidate I voted for. I decided it was wisest not to answer. Unfortunately, this meant speculation from the students.

A chunky Hispanic boy called out, “I bet she voted for Hillary because she’s a woman!”

A skinny African American boy countered loudly, “No, I bet she voted for Trump because she’s white!”

Telling the story to a friend later, I commented that I’m glad their political views will mature as they age to consist of more than simply a basis in race and gender. Then I realized, to my horror and dismay, that not much about their political views will change in the next thirty years. Just look at our adult population.

Authentically Aurora

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Love Didn’t Win

SCOTUS 2On Friday morning when I woke up, I was surrounded by hashtags of #loveislove and social media postings that “Love Won: In a historic ruling, the Supreme Court has decided in favor of marriage equality.”

I was supposed to be packing for my move, with a moving company showing up at 8:00 a.m. the next morning and only half of my apartment boxed up. I was supposed to be prepping for an interview I had just hours later on Friday afternoon. I was supposed to be showering and doing laundry because, you know, interviewers prefer that you don’t show up smelling like you haven’t showered in two days. But I was distracted by a heavy heart because, in this historic ruling, love didn’t win.

Love didn’t win. And what makes it all the more painful is the number of people who genuinely believe that love won. I can understand the mindset and the worldview of wanting “equality” for everyone. I am opposed to slavery and am grateful for the steps toward equal rights for African Americans in the United States. I am opposed to sexism and am so thankful to live in an era where women are allowed to vote, go to college and compete with men for jobs in engineering and medicine. And I believe that all human beings have dignity, value and worth. But I cannot support gay marriage.

I have homosexual friends, and I genuinely want them to be happy. But at my core, I do not believe that marrying someone of the same gender is ultimately for their good; I do not believe it will result in true and lasting joy. I believe that God created this earth and, as the Creator, He knows intimately the scientific laws of the universe, the psychology of the human mind, the tendencies of the human heart. When God speaks to Job, he says:

“Who is this that questions my wisdom
    with such ignorant words?
Brace yourself like a man,
    because I have some questions for you,
    and you must answer them.

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
    Tell me, if you know so much.
Who determined its dimensions…?
What supports its foundations,
    and who laid its cornerstone…?

“Who kept the sea inside its boundaries
    as it burst from the womb,
and as I clothed it with clouds
    and wrapped it in thick darkness?
For I locked it behind barred gates,
    limiting its shores.
I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come.
    Here your proud waves must stop!’

“Have you ever commanded the morning to appear
    and caused the dawn to rise in the east?
Have you made daylight spread to the ends of the earth,
    to bring an end to the night’s wickedness…?

Do you know where the gates of death are located?
    Have you seen the gates of utter gloom?
Do you realize the extent of the earth?
    Tell me about it if you know!”

God knows the rules of the game because He created it! If we love ourselves and seek happiness, might it be prudent to seek wisdom from the One who knows all, sees all, and loves us unconditionally?

SCOTUSWe all have that friend who is dating someone who is wrong for them – that girlfriend of ours who is dating a guy who doesn’t treat her with respect, or that guy friend who is dating a girl who manipulates him constantly. Because we want our friends to be happy, we try to support them, but if we really loved them, perhaps we would have the courage to speak up and say, “I love you, and I want you to be happy, but I’m not sure he/she is right for you. I don’t think he/she will ultimately bring you joy.”

I tend to have Libertarian leanings. I am Pro-Life, opposed to gay marriage, and in support of keeping “under God” in the pledge. But I also acknowledge that I cannot ask people to subscribe to values that they do not believe in. If someone is not a Christian and does not believe that the Creator of the universe has declared homosexuality to be wayward behavior that will not result in lasting joy, how could I expect that person to understand my stance or, still further, to abide by it?

At the end of the day, this is what I would hope my friends, family, acquaintances and the world would hear: God loves us more than we could ever understand. And because of that love, He has given us guidelines that will lead to our joy if we receive His divine wisdom and live it out.

Some people think that God’s command not to engage in premarital sex is cruel and confining; they believe that somehow God is opposed to pleasure and happiness. But I say to you that God created sex! It was His idea! And He wants us to enjoy pleasure and experience happiness. But He knows what will lead to our ultimate joy, and that is to be patient and wait until marriage. How many married couples look back on their youth and think, “Man, I really wish I’d fooled around with more people before I got married!”?

Wives, how many of you have insecurities because your husbands made love to other women before he met you? Is he comparing me to her? Is he thinking of her when he’s with me? Premarital sex undermines the marriage, and – knowing that – God in His love and wisdom asks us to wait.

In the same way, God in His love asks us not to engage in homosexuality. And this is why, on a day when so many others are celebrating, I can only wonder at the atmosphere of heaven on this historic day – our loving God, reaching out to his wayward children, heart broken because He has given us the freedom to choose, and we did not choose Love.

But this I remember, and I have hope: God’s mercies are new every morning; great is His faithfulness. No authorities have power that God did not grant them (Rom. 13:1). God was not surprised by this ruling; He is sovereign and knew about this day before the beginning of time (Eph. 1). And although the prince of this world may have won this battle, we know that God already has the victory. The War is already won!

Authentically Aurora