I’ve decided to take a few big steps recently. It’s ironic, as it all started with a fall, which in many ways felt and seemed catastrophic. For those of you who know my story, I had a skiing accident eighteen months ago which resulted in two knee operations and a lot of hard work to get back on my feet. During this enforced-sitting-down-time, I’ve had a lot to think about and have made some changes in my life. I spent some days hobbling on crutches, trying desperately to make it to the next lamppost and other days being pummeled at physiotherapy. The whole experience has taught me so many things that I’m not sure I can articulate right now. One of those things was about going slower and having to take notice of my surroundings. I had no other choice as my walking pace was at a fraction of what it normally is.
So, back to the big steps. During this time, I felt like I had an opportunity to really think through my career and what my next step would be. I was also working with Soul Action and ‘sitting on’ the Double Me idea until I was well enough to put it to the test. Ordination came up a few times and to cut a long story short, I entered the discernment process for ordination in the Church of England. To concentrate on this a little more, I’ve accepted a job nearer home which holds the responsibility of a classroom teacher. I seriously can’t wait. The past few months, I’ve been learning again about engaging with those people who are in front of me. Let me tell you about some of them.
I have a year eight class who are quite frankly incredible. I just love being with them, love them. The room is alive, pulsating with life and potential. Individually, they are lovely children and collectively they are really something special. I honestly don’t know what it is with them, we just have this great connection (until one of them taps on the table repeatedly, forgetting that’s my pet hate!). Two of them overheard some colleagues discussing my departure from school and asked me loudly if I was leaving. I feel quite strongly about students finding out about from me, so I decided that it was time to tell the class together.
I got them all quiet and explained that a few things had made me see life differently in the past few years. I explained that whilst I’m still bothered about their literacy and love teaching them about English and helping them with their writing, it’s like I see all of them now. The whole person, not just a student of English. Their hearts, their potential, their future and the unexpected twists and turns that life takes them on. I explained that I want to help people on their journey and think I might do that through the church so I won’t be working with just teenagers, but with everyone. Although this isn’t happening just yet, I wanted to explain to them my reasons and be honest with them about this transition. I also explained that I’d be taking a job at a school nearer home in the mean time. This ‘chat’ took me by surprise and I found myself feeling quite emotional as I was explaining and was desperately grasping composure.
It was at this point that one little boy on the front row launched himself out of his seat and ran towards me for a hug, calling out “Miiiiiiiiiiiiiss…” as he came towards me. He wrapped his arms around me and before I knew it, I realised the rest of the class were getting out of their seats too and joining the hug. I stood there, with tears now flowing down my cheeks as 30 twelve-year-olds stood round me in a spontaneous and perfect display of affection. For a moment, I felt the full weight of their appreciation and have been genuinely overwhelmed ever since. They’re normally adorable but this was just something else. Some girls wiped away my tears and their own as we shared this moment together.
The boy who initiated this divine moment isn’t the boy you’d expect. I love that. It’s not typical behaviour for him. He keeps himself to himself. Yes, he’s kind and lovely and he’s also very private. Knowing him makes it all the more special. That he exploded out of his comfort zone to make me feel special. It wasn’t who I’d expect to be so open with emotion and that makes the display of affection all the more important to me (it’s just not cool to hug your English teacher when you’re twelve!). I doubt he gave himself a second thought in that moment which is just beautiful and makes me wonder how much I have to learn from him and the others who followed his lead.
I can’t tell you how much I want to be like him, because I think we just ‘consider’ things so much, when actually sometimes people just need a hug or [insert basic human need here].
I want to be like him. I want to step out and put myself on the line for people. Their reaction might not always be the one I anticipate, but that doesn’t change anything, does it? It doesn’t change the heart-attitude. In that moment, he thought of me and risked ridicule. I don’t mean to sound arrogant in the slightest, I’m seriously humbled by this moment last Friday. This post started off being about big steps but actually it’s all about the small steps, the little choices that we make all the time.
When was the last time I made a courageous step like that? How many times have I missed it? Will I miss the next opportunity? What does that look like for you? Do you know already? Is it something you need to address? Or something you’ll pick up with both hands when you see it?
I’ve got a lot to thank that little guy for, haven’t I? Bless him.
I’m going to keep my eyes and heart open. It’s a risk I’m willing to take.