so loved

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I've detailed our struggles with school some in the past. We made some mistakes, for sure. Last year brought us to a near breaking point with one of our kids, and I was worried that we wouldn't be able to find our way back out. His traumatic kindergarten year was beginning to visit itself again in a new classroom, with a new teacher, even in a different school building. Through some tough choices and some concerted effort on both our part and the teacher's part, we ended the year in a glorious wave of success. I have never been more grateful for a teacher in my life, but as summer began, the flush of victory faded, the urgency lessened. My dreams and prayers for my kids' teachers dwindled until it was time for school to begin again.

We got the all-call about posted class lists, but fresh in my mind was the knowledge that my son had to return to the school building he attended during kindergarten. Back to this building where he had such traumatic memories. Different teachers and a different administration, yes, but it also brings the real need for him to ride the bus again. I felt like all the stuff we sacrificed to do last year to help him succeed was impossible this year, and my fear that we would regress back to previous behaviors and intensified fears. I couldn't bring myself to drive the kids by the schools for several days.

When I finally succumbed to their pleadings to find out their teachers, we pulled up to the curb, walked up to those giant windows and nervously scanned the sheets looking for their names. Neither the children nor I were reassured by anything we saw on the papers. We had no personal knowledge of the teachers and no one we knew personally had the one to whom my second grader was anxiety and my guilt over my lack of real concern over the bulk of the summer was not really abated.

I went to open house with an apprehensive heart, armed with our 'introduction' letter for the teacher. We walked the opposite way from that classroom where the ill-fated kindergarten year had taken place and walked into a new classroom that I was earnestly praying would give him a fresh start. Within minutes, I had hope for our son's whole year. It was an easy introduction, the teacher was so responsive to our letter, and by the time we left, I knew she had been a foster parent for fifteen years while her children were smaller. I left the building with far more peace than when we arrived, yet still in prayer for my littles' first days.

Once they left for school that first morning, I spent the whole day in appointments without much time to think about what was going on. I was just resting in the hope from open house. By the time we slowed down at all that evening, I had an email waiting in my inbox from our son's teacher. Before I started reading, that familiar pit in my stomach from the previous years' teacher communications had arrived. 

It wasn't far into it before I knew this communication was different. She explained classroom protocols - and it's a truly positive behavior system! no color cards every day!! - and she outlined ways she had already made efforts to help our son feel safe and secure in her classroom. She explained her background as both a therapeutic foster care worker and parent, she expressed her commitment to working with us, our son, and his therapist if necessary to make this year successful for him.

By the end of the email, I could not hold back my tears. Not only of gratitude for this teacher and her commitment, but just in absolute wonder for how loved my son is. Oh, not by me; I already knew how much I loved him. Not even by his teacher, although that was something I had definitely prayed for. But by the One who created Him and knows Him by name.

We sent our kids to school this week with a verse of promise from Isaiah 43 - a promise that God created them. He formed them. They do not need to fear because God is with them. He has freed them from that. He has called them by name. They belong to Him. Even when the teachers might not remember their names right away, even when the kids might not know who they are, God knows. He knows them so intimately. The very Creator that formed the universe formed my son's heart. He loved him before he was even born, and He loves Him still. He knew the teachers my child needed to counteract what happened to him his first year of school. He knew and He cared even when I forgot to think about it. I can't control all these things that may or may not happen to my son, but there is One who loves my son more than I ever could. He loved him when he was born. He loves him still with such tender care and mercy. 

I know that our son doesn't quite yet get this. He doesn't see how our Jesus is loving him so beautifully. He doesn't see how he's being drawn in with arms of love. But I see it, and it just makes me love Jesus more. I am not the rescuer. I am not the healer. I am not the controller of all circumstances and happenings in my children's life. But I know the One who is. He is my friend, and I love to see how He is patiently waiting and working to become the friend of my children too. This week, there's this song ringing in my heart, and that's how I want to leave you today...with these words that I can sing about myself but have become even more powerful when I can sing the truth of them over my children:

I'm no longer a slave to fear.
I am a child of God

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