“How did I just do that?” This was the question I continually asked myself yesterday every time another period ended at Laurel High School. Yesterday was my first day teaching a course on Boundaries & Self Care at our local public high school. It was actually my first day of teaching, period. I was given the opportunity to teach through Choices Clinic (my current employer). A couple co-workers of mine set up these courses: 1) Personality and Self Worth, 2) Goal Setting, 3) Boundaries and Self Worth, and 4) STD Education. The fact our clinic has the opportunity to speak at our local high school is the greatest blessing, but it’s also a big responsibility. We’ve been feeling the weight at work lately with some changes taking place, but when I finished the courses yesterday, I was reminded that this is why we do what we do. To be an advocate for those who don’t know how to speak for themselves, to be an advocate for those who don’t have voices.
When I was asked if I was interested in teaching a course back in December of 2016, my heart was instantly gripped with excitement and inspiration – YES! But my head was simultaneously gripped with fear and worry – NO! My head and heart were at war with each other. I wrote a blog post about this process earlier: The fear of failure. I asked for the weekend to process and pray, and I would give my co-workers an answer on Monday. It just so happened that my parents were in town this weekend, stopping by on a road trip across the country from California to Virginia. Ah, God’s providence. Now if you know me, you should know that I think the world of my parents. Their influence and wisdom continually keep me grounded, and I often look to them for advice and counsel. Here’s my parents, Jeff and Leslie, aren’t they the cutest?!
Anyway, my parents were in town and took me to coffee Monday morning before work. I didn’t want to ask them about teaching the class because I knew in my heart the right thing to do, but fear was holding me back. Besides, one of my dad’s gifts is teaching, and so are many in our family. I just don’t think I’m one of those family member who is gifted in that area. Nevertheless, I asked their opinions. Mama told me it would be a great opportunity to share a bit of my testimony, and thought my own experiences could be a powerful influence in the student’s lives. My Pops told me that you should always be “one inch outside your comfort zone” when it comes to your work. One inch? I think teaching in front of high schoolers would be one mile! But they were only confirming what God had laid on my heart and my head feared – I need to teach this course, even if it’s far beyond my comfort zone.
So, how did I just do that? I asked myself after every class, my clothes soaked in sweat after standing in front of a group of juniors who have already experienced so much in their own lives. Well, the answer is, I didn’t just do that. Not by myself, anyway. The only explanation for a peace that passes all understanding is God and his good, good grace. My friends and family had been showering me with prayer – the morning that I went to teach, my phone was exploding with text messages of sweet words and encouraging messages. And I remember thinking, this isn’t even about me. I just want to articulate the importance of this message to these kids. It’s about reaching them where they are. When the teacher handed the class over to me, I remember just staring at the students for a moment, an aching pain in the pit of my stomach. And then I began talking. Nerves, shaking, sweating. But the longer it went on, the better it became. By the end of the day, when I began my final class, my clothes completely soaked through, I was confident that being here at the high school was beyond important, and I had the opportunity to be a vessel to share an important message with these students.
Some classes, I honestly couldn’t tell if the students were listening or not. I wasn’t expecting them to come in and cling to my every word, my expectations were set long before I came into the school. But some students really seemed to engage with the material, and I was encouraged. Even if one student left the classroom with a new proverbial “tool in their tool belt”, that in itself is enough. Heck, the fact I faced my fear and listened and obeyed what God had called me to do, that in itself is enough.
P.S. Teachers, you’re actual super heroes. Really, I’m not kidding.