"Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you."
2 Thessalonians 3:16
A year ago last spring, the Lord started speaking to me about teaching my daughter's Sunday school class. It was a thought that I hoped would leave without requiring me to act on the thought. The thought of leaving my own adult class to teach ten and eleven-year-old girls made me feel stretched beyond my comfort zone. I could blend in, contribute or not depending on my mood, and be fed by staying where I was. All I had to do was show up if I stayed where I was. The Lord gently and persistently nudged me to the point where I knew I would be disobedient if I didn't sign up to teach the girls last fall.
I cringe when I think of what I would have missed out on if I did not teach. I have learned so much from my precious girls. In a strange way, God is using our conversations to heal old, broken places in my heart, to learn to forgive myself for not being perfect as they struggle in this area, and to fall in love with Him all over again because there is still wide-eyed excitement and purity in their love for Jesus.
Today I asked the girls to anonymously fill out several questions. We had a larger group today because we combined with another class. The questions I asked were:
1) I know I would be totally happy if I had _________.
2) When I look at _______, I wish I had her life because__________.
3) If I could change one thing about the way I look I would: __________.
4) If I could be really good at one thing, I would want to be able to________________ because ___________.
5) I would like to tell other people about Jesus, but the one thing that holds me back is: ___________.
6) Sometimes I wonder why God didn’t make me ____________ because ________________.
7) The one thing I am afraid about more than anything is __________.
I didn't read the responses to the questions until this afternoon. It was amazing to see what ten, eleven, and twelve-year-olds thought. Overwhelmingly, the girls thought they would be totally happy if they had a puppy or a cat. Many were clearly influenced by the media and thought being famous was the most desirable goal they could achieve because "people would like me more." There were several who wanted to be better at a sport or dancing because they were comparing themselves to others and felt they were not as good. The majority of girls said they were shy to share their faith because of rejection. And spiders were the number one answer for things they were most afraid of.
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at their responses. Not laugh to mock them, but laugh because I so empathize with their naivete about what makes a person truly happy. How often do I think a new object will assuage the ache I feel in my soul? Maybe it's not a puppy or a cat (in fact, I KNOW it's not those!!) - no, mine are bigger ticket items than that - a new car, new furniture, new landscaping... How often do I envy someone else's talent, their weight, their financial position and wish it was mine? I so struggle as I believe the lie if I could only learn to be a better mother like her, have a waistline like my friend, or be financially secure with no bills, I would be happy. My fear about sharing Jesus with others is no different than my darling fifth-grade girls. Rejection keeps my mouth shut. Why don't I realize that my only responsibility is to share, not to convert? Living in Congo cured my fear of spiders, but there are plenty of other fears that I have that hold me back.
I looked around the table at my beautiful students. I didn't see the imperfections. I saw unbelievable, sky-is-the-limit potential. But they are already convinced they are lacking something they feel they need. I tell them week in and week out that God has plans for them that they cannot imagine. It breaks my heart that they are not convinced, that they cannot see what I see.
And then I realized that must be how God feels about me believing the lies I do about all the if only's in my life...
Jesus, Your peace is the answer to all my if only's.