I recently accepted a long-term sub position. I’m on week 3 of working full time as an aid to a PPCD class (preschool programs for children with disabilities… or Special Ed Pre-K). They are itsy bitsy teeny-weeny little cuties! I absolutely adore them.
I won’t lie, as precious as the kiddos are, it’s a challenging job. It’s a high stress environment, as we have 37 tinies (age3-8). I burn more calories from lifting, bending and chasing than I would when exercising. I’m constantly dodging coughs in my face, and I’ve been unsuccessful, as I’ve been sick for two weeks straight. Wiping snot is my new normal. Avoiding lice is my new daily challenge. And changing diapers is my new routine. I get hit, caressed, kicked, spit on and screamed at. I come home from the day physically and emotionally drained, not to mention sticky from who knows what. Seriously, what is that?!
Sometimes, when I’m changing a 6-year old’s diaper, my educated pride seems to overcome my Christian call. I think to myself, “I spent 7.5 years in higher education. I didn’t sleep for 3.5 years while getting 2 masters degrees. And now I’m wearing my hair in a bun to avoid creepy critters and wiping urine off of the floor. And I don’t even make $8 an hour?”
Over the last year, in this season of unemployment, I’ve been struggling with what looks like an identity crisis. For so long, my identity was wrapped up in how many papers I could write and the number of pages I read. My sense of worth was based on production. Transitioning into a period of ‘rest’ and no visible signs of productivity brought envy, anger, feelings of worthlessness and of course, tears, almost on the daily. I even feel like I withdrew from friends out of embarrassment.
And now I’m wiping poop while making barely minimum wage. But, as I pull up the last Pamper, I remember who is to blame.
I do not blame Obama. I don’t blame Lufkin. I blame Jesus.
I blame Jesus for calling us to serve Him in every aspect of life. I blame Jesus for asking us to give because we have been given much. I blame Jesus for calling me to follow Him.
So, in this week of Thanksgiving, I not only blame Jesus, but I thank Jesus for asking me to serve the least of these. I thank Him for allowing me to be a presence of love in the lives of special needs children of whom the majority has uninvolved parents. It is a privilege to have them in my life, because they teach me every single day. I am thankful for a job, although not high-paying, that helps out around here.
I didn’t get an education to make the big bucks or hang diplomas on my wall; I got an education so that I could better serve, and this is where I’m being asked to serve right now. I am thankful for a period of ‘unproductive rest’ and this new job that have helped me remember that. I am thankful for those that do this job on a regular basis, because they are heroes. I give thanks for this season that is still molding me into what it truly means to have an identity rooted only in Christ, because I desperately needed it. Slowly, my identity is becoming less about my profession (or lack thereof) and more about obediently following the One who gives life.
I just wish it wasn’t illegal to snap and post a few pictures of these kids I fall more in love with every day. Well, Opal is whining to be let out. Sometimes I have to wipe the poop off her tush, too. Thanks, Jesus?
P.S. I’m exceptionally thankful for this guy, who has put up with me through this very unflattering period!