Tuesday, July 24, 2012

three good long cries

I usually only blog on days when I don’t have a ton going on, which explains why I haven’t blogged in a while- but I’m taking some time off this summer, and hopefully I can get caught up on some stories, insights and reflections-

lately, my heart has been overflowing with emotion for my students. here are 3 recent stories of interactions with students that made me burst into tears:

:: we have a student who is in 7th grade who struggles with anxiety. every week she puts on her prayer card that it is almost crippling. I sent her a note about how I have been encouraged by psalm 139, and how I quote the last 2 verses of the psalm when I’m feeling anxious. the next time I saw her, she thanked me for the note and told me that she actually quotes that psalm when she is feeling anxious too- except she quotes the entire psalm.

recently we had a little talent show in the ministry, and she said that she wanted to stand up front and quote psalm 139. I wasn’t shure how that was going to go: would she get anxious? would the students giggle? when it was time to go up, she stood in front of her peers like an actress in a broadway show. in a loud, and animated voice she cried out,

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.

You hem me in —behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
 if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”
 even the darkness will not be dark to you; he night will shine like the day,
 for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
 I know that full well.
 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book
 before one of them came to be.

 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake, I am still with you.

If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!
 They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name.
 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord,
    and abhor those who rise up against you?
 I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.
 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.”

my jaw dropped. I was speechless. it was flawless, confident and inspiring. later a new staff person said, “wow- that was cool!” I said, “yeah- and you know what? she struggles with anxiety. in fact, she quotes those words when she feels anxious. that’s how she got so good at remembering it.” and then I soaked my cheeks in tears.

:: speaking of memorizing verses, we have an 8th grade boy named Trevor who was giving it his very, very best to learn 10 memory verses at camp this summer so that he could earn points for his team to win the camp championship. One night, I saw him sitting on the porch of his cabin late at night, reviewing the lines of a verse. he was so frustrated that he couldn’t memorize it. I talked to his counselor and he said that everyone had memorized all of their verses except for Trevor- he also said that he has never seen someone struggle with memorizing like that. Later in the week his counselor said, “well, Trevor did it!” “He memorized a verse?” I asked. “No. He memorized ALL of his verses!” I started thinking of Jane- and how if she had done something like that, that I would give her some kind of prize. I went up to Trevor and said, “TREVOR! you memorized ALL of your verses! I can’t even say how proud I am of that! good job! Hey! I want to give you a prize and recognize this! what do you want? a milkshake? a t-shirt? you name it.” he said, “Naw- I just want to win.” and then my vision got blurry from the tears. sadly, he didn’t win; but he’s still a winner.

:: at the same camp, we had a 6th grade girl who came up to me with tears in her eyes and said, “I want to go home.” In my mind I thought that she was feeling sick or homesick. she continued, “my dad died 6 years ago this week. and I was gone when he died. and I just want to be home.” oh boy. I started thinking of Jane again and I couldn’t keep it together. I said, “well, your mom paid a lot of money for you to be here, and she is hoping that you have a great week; would you like to call her on the phone?” she nodded yes. I got a staff girl, and took her to my lodge room and showed her the phone. I stayed outside while they were in the room making the call. I saw a friend in the hall and tried to make small talk, but then I could hear this kid’s sobs through the door, and I just lost it.

she just kept talking about it for the rest of the week. I constantly caught her sharing stories with friends and counselors about good times with her dad: his favorite foods, the last time that they swam together and his pet names for her. I was in tears on and off for the rest of the week.

I was reflecting last week that what I needed the most was a good long cry; and I definitely found it. I’ve had a few of those at that camp; and my heart is full.

God is love.