I sat in a too small chair at a desk this morning with three adults peering across at me. The walls surrounding were like every single classroom I have ever been in. A certain beige dullness covered up with calendars and posters of fractions and word problems written on the board.
This is the place my child spends hours upon hours each day. It’s very sterile and orderly. Kind of cold, even. I suddenly understand more why home is designed to be cozy and warm. Safe and comforting. Because this room doesn’t put that forth, though the faces staring at me do.
I start to wish that classrooms had flowy curtains and throw pillows. Maybe some ambient music and a bit dimmer lighting. Something to make it feel just a tad bit less like a hospital, this place where our children are each day. Yes, I’m sitting in parent/teacher interviews and in my mind I’m decorating the room. I will not apologize for it. (A fireplace in the corner, perhaps? Just a thought…)
I admit I went in a bit upset. I was less than thrilled with the particular report card I’d just received and I wanted clarity and answers as to why my never-had-these-kinds-of-grades-before child suddenly had THESE kinds of grades.
I expected, somehow in my warped thinking, that this was their fault. It had to be. My son had always done well until now and so it must be something this new set of teachers was doing wrong that had altered his life in a negative way. That it had to be their lack of care that made his shining happy history into a big black X of a report card.
In my mind I had all the questions ready. Why aren’t you teaching him so he understands? Why aren’t you spending more time with him? Why can’t he come and get extra help when it’s hard? Why are there not more things he could be doing to improve? Why do you not care? Why aren’t you with him? Don’t you love him?
Of course none of these questions even made it off of my lips because what met me across that small desk was a different tone, a different look in their eye. What came out of their mouth was so different then what I had perceived would come. They were warm and soft and phrases like, “We’re here to help,” and “We want to see him successful,” came from their hearts. They talked of how lovely my boy is and how he always has a smile on his face and a heart full of kindness. They talked of how helpful he is to his peers and teachers and what a pleasure he is to have around. And then they got real and told it like it is. “But,” they said, “he has to want it.”
So, it turns out when you sit across a table and look them in the eye and get the real story it changes things a little. This boy that’s struggling just now? Well, it’s not because he’s got bad teachers, it’s because he doesn’t ask for help. He doesn’t redo quizzes he’s done poorly on. He doesn’t seek clarification when things have gone wrong. He doesn’t spend the time to go slowly and do it right but rather rushes through to simply get the task done in a manner that appeases.
I say this not to belittle my son or his work ethic to all the land, we’ve decided to chalk this term up to a glitch in the system and move on. I say it because it reminded me so clearly of our life before our heavenly Father and I was so thankful for the picture it created in my mind.
For years my son has skipped along through school and for years of my life I, too, have skipped along. Maybe you have too. But then a time comes, a season, a year, a decade where it’s all going wrong. The report card isn’t reading like it ought. Life isn’t going as it should. This is not how it’s supposed to be and this is not what we signed up for.
In these times, it becomes easy to speak to God exactly how I was ready to speak to my boys teachers. We ask all the questions about, “Where are you?” and “Why aren’t you helping me?” We throw out accusations about why He doesn’t care and we question whether He really loves us.
But this is what I know, when you don’t simply turn your back and you actually sit across the desk from The Great Teacher and you look Him in the eye, His response is much more like my boys teachers were than what we expect.
He says, I’m here.
He says, I’ve always been here.
He says, why haven’t you come to me.
He says, I want to help.
He says, I want to refine.
He says, I’m right here and I always have been.
He turns the question back on us, where are you?
And the truth of it is, sometimes we rush through our homework and we fail to sit before God and really take in what He has for us. We read through that feel-good God book that someone wrote and we’re encouraged but we aren’t taking the time to sit under THE book that He gave us as a window to who He is.
We, in all our controlling nature, begin to solve the problems with our minds or our abilities or our pocketbook instead of taking them to Him and asking for help.
We may think we know the answers and think we get it and so we feel we no longer need to go in for tutoring sessions or show up for class at all!
And then when things go wrong we turn and we make it His fault and we wonder where He could possibly be.
When all along, like my boys teachers, He’s sitting there saying,
“I’m here. Where are you?”
“I want your good, do you?”
“I want to help, but in order to receive it you have to come.”
We have a God who loves and cares and desires our good. Are we seeking Him? Are we turning to Him? Are we sitting under the authority He gives us on how we ought to live?
Or are we, like my boy, whipping through life, handling it on our own, squeaking by with the least amount of effort to appease? Are we not asking for help and not going to the source of life, and then, in all our arrogance, are shocked at what comes and shake our fists at the One who has been sitting there waiting all this time for us to just show up?
He’s there. He’s waiting. He wants to help. He wants our good. Go to Him. You will be met with kind and loving eyes that say, “Welcome, i’m so glad you’re here.”