lessons

All posts tagged lessons

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Published June 4, 2014 by Dawn

I have been working with a nonverbal autistic student for two years, and the experience has been quite the enigma. Some days were the hardest days of my life, while others were rewarding and deeply satisfying, both spiritually and emotionally. I have also learned some of my greatest lessons while working with her. Such as how to love someone who attacks you everyday, how to hold in things and hold back when you’d rather respond or react. I have learned how to act in wisdom instead of in the flesh. All of these truths are priceless to me in my walk with the Lord as He molds me, and I feel very blessed to have learned them, even though they came at a high price. A painful price. A terrible price. But a necessary cost to become more like Christ.

The lesson that has been heavily on my heart the last few days, however, is one I learned within my first six months working with her. A violent six months; she literally beat me up everyday. When I took over as her para because she was moving up into the high school, I was introduced to her and given the practical instructions of working with her. Mind you, I don’t have experience in special education. It was just my job. You know, the necessary thing you only do because you feel the need to eat. In truth, this job is so far from the dreams in my heart, being there is a constant act of submission. I know God put me there. I struggle most days.

Anyway, back to the lesson. She was beating me up everyday, and I couldn’t for the life of my figure out why. Then it happened one day: someone asked me how my day was going, seeing my haggard look, and I began to tell them how awful she was being and I looked over at her to relay my exasperation, only to catch her rolling her eyes and snarling at me. And like a fist to the face, it hit me: I have disrespected her everyday since the beginning by talking about her like she’s not even there.

I had taken the cue from her former para, been told her mentality was that of a toddler, and completely disregarded the person stuck inside her disorder. I had discussed her dysfunction everyday with coworkers like we were sharing recipes, right in front of her with no regard to her feelings. No wonder she was beating me up everyday! She couldn’t stand me! If someone was walking on my heart everyday, I’d react in much the same way.

From the day on, I have kept a proverbial hand over my mouth and treated this girl like a person capable of understanding and feelings, and the behaviors have become so minimal, when they happen, I am completely caught off guard. Not to mention that the really extreme behaviors such as head butting and screaming have stopped completely. This poor girl has put up with rude people her entire life acting like she’s stupid. Clearly, she is anything but.

I’ve been thinking about this life lesson in relation to how we treat God. How we talk about Him like He’s not in the room. How we disrespect Him like we disrespect others when we talk behind their backs, hoping they never find out. I’m so convicted. How about the mockery we make of His timing when we’re unhappy with the way He’s handling things? Or the hateful things we say when we don’t understand what He’s doing? Or the way we question His authority in the affairs of this life? I’m not too proud to admit I’m guilty. In fact, I’m not proud at all. I’m deeply ashamed at the way I treat my Father. The way I treat my Husband. The way I treat my Best Friend. I’ve spent the last year of my life straining to hear His voice and I wonder, would I hear more of Him if I disrespected Him less? If I held my tongue and loved Him enough to trust Him with my life?

Jesus, I’m sorry.

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April Showers

Published April 28, 2013 by Dawn

The sun came out today. I haven’t seen it in a while. With spring comes the inevitable rain, because April showers bring May flowers, right? I forgot about that back in winter when I was bemoaning the cold and praying for spring. I forgot about the sunless days and the unending rain. It’s been dreary and there have been many days I would have been more than happy to stay snuggled under the covers listening to the rhythmic fall of rain outside. I tend to sleep better when it rains.

When I noticed that the sun had peeked out, I stepped outside and saw unmistakably the effects of the rain: growth. The grass in my yard seems to have grown more in the three-day downpour than it does when the rain is scarce. The leaves on the trees are coming back in earnest. It even seems that the colors are more vibrant now, I guess because the rain has washed away all the dust that settles on things that sit immobile. The effects of Spring’s rain are breathtaking. Things are beautiful again.

In my walk with Christ, I have noticed the revolving seasons that come as well. They tend to mirror the season of nature. Winter, with it’s cold, harsh, lifeless days. Summer, a stretch of long, leisurely days full of warmth and fun. Fall, when the harvest comes to full bloom and work is finally rewarded. But before all of that is Spring. Spring, with it’s rain and tireless work to prepare for the harvest to come.

One thing that cannot be denied about Spring is the growth. I think it’s safe to say that when it “rains” in life, if we allow God to do His work in us, there is always the unmistakable growth that takes place. When tears fall like rain, rest assured that the thing taking place in your life is causing you to grow into the person God would have you to be. More vibrant. More beautiful. More alive. Cleansed. And because of the work, there is a sweetness to rest during this season. Don’t miss the time of rest in His arms. It refreshes the weary heart and quenches the thirsty soul. Such is the promise of a Spring rain.

Counting the Cost

Published February 8, 2013 by Dawn

It’s Friday. I am sitting here snuggled in a blanket getting ready to read Galatians. When I first opened my Word this morning, I noticed this verse in Jeremiah jumping out at me:

“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says, ‘Write down for the record everything I have said to you…” (30:2).
Before I even opened my word, I had a prayer time with God, in which I confessed some major trust issues such as, I know that God is wanting me to go deeper in our relationship. It’s time for me to sell out to him. To walk up to the burning Mount Sinai and let Him speak to me. But I have balked. Here’s why: I am so scared that I will put my hand to the plow and look back. I guess I have been stuck in that moment of counting the cost and I don’t want to look back once I surrender this to Him. I don’t want to dishonor Him like that. I also confessed my trust issues. Although I have seen God work some amazing miracles in my life, in my finances, etc., I am struggling with trusting the future to Him. Which is so stupid because I can’t control my future anyway. But I have been struggling to surrender my kids’ needs to him, and I don’t want to be poor forever and I have expectations of my future because of the promises He has whispered to my heart, and I find it really hard to let go of this false feeling of control. I am standing on the bank of the river, and He is beckoning me out into the deep. I’m so scared! So I poured all of this out to Him in prayer and then opened my devotional and here’s what it said:

I am your Lord, your Supply. You must rely on me. Trust to the last uttermost limit. Trust and be not afraid. You must depend on Divine Power only. I have not forgotten you. Your help is coming. You shall know and realize My Power.

Endurance is faith tried almost to breaking point. You must wait, and trust, and hope and joy in Me. You must not depend on man, but on Me, on Me, your Strength, your Help, your Supply.

This is the great test. Am I your Supply or not? Every great work for me has had to have this great test-time.

Possess your souls in patience and rejoice. You must wait until I show the way. Heaven itself cannot contain more joy than that soul know when, after the waiting test I crown it Victor, but no disciple of Mine can be victor, who does not wait until I give the order to start. You cannot be anxious if you know that I am your supply.
*God Calling, ed. A.J. Russell, Spire Books, 1987

Patience

Published November 4, 2012 by Dawn

I added “helping to mow” to my eight-year old son’s chore list, and so yesterday, we worked together to get the yard done. Let me just say, it was a learning experience for both of us. For instance, I learned that to be an effective teacher, you have to give the other person freedom in learning. Like, how they process the information and even whether or not they listen to you at all.

I will just go ahead and admit that I am a perfectionist. My philosophy has always been, “If you can’t do something right, don’t do anything at all.” And this isn’t just aimed at other people. I aim this statement mercilessly at myself. Thus the reason I have been working for three years on two books, neither of which are even remotely close to being “finished.” Sure, I have a lot written, and much more in my head that I could write, but I don’t have anything “shelf ready” and though I realize this may never happen without some outside help, I can’t bring myself to admit that this isn’t a solo job and seek the outside help I need.

Anyway, as I stood in the yard yesterday watching him mow, I was horrified at his technique. Well, that is to say, there was no technique. He was carefree as he zigged and zagged catching a tuft of really long grass here and there and leaving the rest uncropped. When I reluctantly handed him the mower, I told him slowly about “the system,” which is my way of mowing the yard. It consists of visually cutting the yard into fourths and mowing each fourth in a square, from the outside in so that you don’t miss anything, and if you do it in the right direction, there are no lines and no grass waste covering the freshly mowed yard. I do it the same way every time I mow and it always looks great. Perfect, even. Well, “the system” went out the window the second he got his hands on the mower. Not only did he mow chaotically, he even ran with the mower a few times, and I just stood there, really wanting to say something but not saying anything at all. I decided to see how well his method worked out in the end.

There were many times when he would miss a patch of grass, but somehow he almost always managed to get back around to it. He was so enjoying the process of mowing the yard that I’m not sure if that was on purpose or accidental. Sometimes, he mowed the same patch of grass over and over and over again, but he was having so much fun, I just reveled in his joy. When he was finished, I told him he did a good job and then pointed out the parts he overlooked, and told him we would work on them together.

As I watched my son, I began to thank God that He is not a perfectionist. If He were, I know He’d be perpetually frustrated with me as I try over and over to learn the things He tries to teach me. But I see in Him a father who watches His child learn with utter fascination, noticing the parts they miss, but enjoying the process of growth too much to point it out right away. And when the lesson has been roughly learned, He lovingly points out the parts I  missed and says, “That’s okay. We will work on this together next time.” And faithfully, He allows me a “next time.” I love Him for his infinite patience on my behalf