his voice came quietly - i almost didn't hear him over the rustle of backpacks and laughter. "mrs. ramirez, i need to apologize."
i moved my eyes from the pile of essays on my desk and looked at my student. i've heard this statement before - many times. you get a little immune to the excuses and "you see what had happened was..." as a high school teacher. for some reason, someOne inside whispered, take this one seriously.
"what's up?" i gave him an encouraging smile. he was having a hard time even looking at me.
"well...i just wanted to say i'm sorry. i uh...haven't been doing my work and i know i've slacked off it's just..." his voice broke for a half second and he continued, shoulders back, willing himself to finish, "i've got a lot going on at home and i just can't focus."
i glanced at him before moving my eyes downward. i suddenly felt the overwhelming impulse to steady myself - steady my heart now beating an irregular rhythm. straightening my jacket, i met his gaze again and smiled. "don't worry about it. seriously. i know how difficult it is sometimes to stay above water when it seems like everything else is utter chaos."
he nodded and looked relieved. "yeah. it's been...crazy."
and i knew then - he didn't have to fill in any of the blanks for me. i knew because my heart recognized the desperation in his voice. i couldn't tell him this, though. i couldn't let him know there are mornings where i open my eyes and the last thing i want to do is get out of bed and face the day. i couldn't let him know there are moments where the pain feels so great i need to grab a moment to myself and let the tears fall - if they come. most times i'm left with an aching and weariness that leaves me breathless. most of all, i couldn't tell him about the One who gets me through the day. i couldn't smile through tears and say, "yeah. i understand. but there's One who can calm the storm to a mere whisper [psalm 107:29]"
instead, i listen as the conversation ends on the awkward low note of high school communication. watching my student walk out the door, i'm left with this nagging feeling of inadequacy. i close my eyes and pray the words that so often leave my lips: show them You.
and then, less than twelve hours later, i'm struck with the same mind-bending and self-debilitating doubts and fears. my heart constricts and aches for some type of release. i glance at the sky with my still-dry eyes and watch as the sun cascades brilliant light in shades of new beginnings - overtaking the darkness that just minutes ago caused me to shiver deep in my bones. show me You, my lips move without my knowledge as i fall into the rhythm of one who needs to remember.
i think on the memories etched into my heart's wounds - ones i'm still processing and ones God's just now revealing.
these bones cry out for You - cause only You can wake the dead, can lift my head up...
the music and lyrics weave themselves into the crevices of pain and serve as a balm. i breathe in and close my eyes and remember that long before he laid down the earth's foundations - long before the sun now taking over the night sky came into existence by His hand - He had me in mind. the purpose was significant: before the earth existed, i was the focus of His love and He already planned to make me whole [Ephesians 1:5]. my dry bones leap with recognition and i cling to what i know is true. my grip tightens the wheel and i think about how He paints the sky for us - just to show us His love. i think about the crisp morning air and the laughing until it hurts and the healing embrace of one who knows me well.
and then it suddenly hits me. this is not an overnight experience.
my dry bones may be refreshed - He may lift my head for a moment - but in order to strengthen, He must crush.
and so for now, my heart's in reprieve - the pain a distant rhythm still beating in my chest. for now, the tears flow freely because of His goodness. but i know i must be emptied again. i know the Refiner's fire is never weakened - and my soul still bares rough edges needing the smoothness of His hand. when the times comes again for me to walk through the fire, i will do so. and before the heat even touches my skin, the words will be on my lips.
show me You.