In 2009 I interned with my campus ministry group in collaboration with a local church in St. Louis, MO. I was one of the teachers in a supplemental summer school program.
It was hard work.
It stretched me.
I had some difficult kids, but I cared for them.
One particular day, one of my little girls was sick. We didn’t want her around the other students in case she got them sick, but we couldn’t send her home. So I had her lay down on a couch, put my by button down shirt over her (we had no blankets), and we read together.
The girl had a twin sister and the three of us grew very close to each other.
On the last day of the school program us teachers brought the students back to the neighborhood they lived in and I walked the twins home. They screamed goodbye as they ran across their front yard to their front door. I knew I would never see them again, but they didn’t.
In that moment I realized both how much influence we have in each other’s lives AND how little.
This is reaffirmed for me everyday in my career as a teacher. For a short time in our lives we are given immeasurable influence on other people and fractions of a second later it could all end.
It teaches me that I’m far more important than my lowest thoughts of myself. It pushes me to strive to be better. It encourages me to continue to offer help and influence in the world around me without fear of failure.
But right now I’m tired.
I’m physically exhausted.
I’m emotionally burdened.
I’m mentally stretched.
I’m financially insecure.
This experience also humbled me. It taught me that I’m not nearly as great as I think I am. I have limits. I wasn’t meant to save everyone. I wasn’t meant to save anyone. I was meant to do the best with the time that I was given.
In my exhaustion I’m not discouraged.
I’m resting and recharging before I venture out to search again for the tension between influence and humility.