Thursday, March 20, 2014

When No One is Watching

Yesterday I gave my students about thirty minutes to work on assignments that are due Friday. Typically I don't give a lot of time for that in class, but I was feeling generous and so...I did. And while they all worked so studiously, I pulled a desk from out of place in the row where it belonged so that I was facing them and that's how I spent the last thirty minutes of the class period--sitting in my out of place desk, reading and grading and such. And then, when class was over, I picked up my piles of stuff and started to head out of the classroom. And then I realized...I hadn't put the desk back where it belonged.

I stopped for a second, debating. Should I put everything down? Move it back? And then I shrugged: eh. Somebody else will move it. It's not that big of a deal.

We share classrooms and so two other teachers occupy the room before I do each day. And really...what's one desk? I would have to put everything down in order to move it...and I had to go to the bathroom! (I always have to go to the bathroom.)

So, as I was leaving the classroom, I realized that one of my precious cherub students left a mangled pen on his desk. As I said before, my hands were full with my iPad, notebook that I use for teaching, graded quizzes and the like, and so, thinking of our poor cleaning lady who works tirelessly to keep the ad building clean,  I quickly put everything down in order to pick up the pen and throw it away. But then, as I grabbed the pen, I realized that he had torn the plastic off of the pen and strewn it all over the floor. And so, I bent down and picked up the little red plastic pieces as well, muttering to myself about how irresponsible and careless some students are. Genuinely annoyed.

Once again, I picked up my piles of stuff and took a quick glance around the classroom...and once again noticed that out of place desk.

And it struck me: I'm no different.

And so once again I dropped all of my stuff and moved the desk back where it belonged.

It's funny to me how the very things we criticize in others we are guilty of ourselves. We are reading in Freshman English a book called A Thousand Shall Fall about an Adventist family during WWII in Hungary (I think it's Hungary, anyway). The thing that strikes me about this book is how this little family lived with such principle. They strove to do right no matter the cost--even in the little things. The wife refused to lie to the Gestapo, endangering the lives of her children and herself. They were true to their convictions and counted living for principle worth the cost.

I'm inspired.

As we discuss this book, my students and I, they, too, are struck with how amazing this family is. Most of them readily admit they wouldn't stand firm--some even stating that if they were offered food and a vacation for joining the Nazi party, they'd sign up without a second thought.

Of course, one never knows how one would respond under such circumstances until faced with them. But I can't help but all the conveniences of our modern culture made us lazy with principle? Are we all victims of a careless attitude?

One of the stories in the book is how a schoolteacher wouldn't allow the children to stop going to school on Saturday. The mom prayed fervently about this as she knew this choice could mean death for all of them. But out of the blue the teacher was called to join the army and he was sent to the front lines where he was killed. I asked the students: Did God answer the prayer by letting the teacher be killed? This started a riot in both classes as there were two camps, and both camps were adamant their side was correct.

Again, I stood amazed. Who is this God that some of us serve?

It seems our lives are the product of our concepts. We live out our belief system. Our carelessness reflects our dedication to principle; the way we treat others reflects our story of who God is. It's a sobering thought and leaves me wondering...where do I stand? Have I become so consumed with the busy-ness of my own life that I've lost sight of who you are when no one is watching is who you really are...?

My concept of God is certainly not up for debate. I'm not worried about that in this blog (that's fodder for another blog). But yesterday? I was inspired to care more about the little things, to live my life with more principle...especially when no one is watching.

1 comment:

  1. I so hope Jake will get to be in one of your classes next year!!


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