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our Christmas hope

Dear Maliyah,

Every year around Christmas time I hope to have a moment. A moment where the power and beauty of Christmas hits me, and I am able to see the meaning of Christmas in new light.

I seek out sermons to listen to, I read Advent devotionals, and I reread the Christmas story over and over in hopes that something would stand out to me that hadn’t before.

Nearing Christmas time, I was so frustrated with myself that I hadn’t had this moment yet, so I listened to more religious Christmas songs hoping this would help, but no such luck.

You would think 22 years into life I would have figured it out by now- our Father likes to meet us in the most surprising and magnificent ways. Me trying to force the moment wasn’t going to be fruitful, but I kept trying anyways. Luckily, our Father sees our pursuit and honors it. He meets us when we seek Him.

My whole life I have loved kids. They have been the wind beneath my wings and the thing that has fueled my passions for all that I have done. Their innocence, curiosity, and innate goodness has drawn me in since I was little and I’ve been captured ever since.

I’ve never had a hard time loving them either. Even the ones that were difficult, odd, or kind of annoying always found a way to plant themselves in my heart. Each one had their own battles, personality, or experiences, and I was willing to extend grace and cover them in love.

Up until this year.

You see, this year my class turned out a bit differently than initially anticipated. I have a few kiddos who know exactly how to press my buttons, bother their classmates, and do the opposite of what I say. I’ve developed better classroom management, I’ve acquired more patience, and unfortunately I’ve had far too many days when I thought to myself, “Well Morgan, you really screwed that one up.”

I’ve worked hard with these students and parents to develop plans and systems that would give us the best chance of success. I’ve had to pray lots- to be extra kind and extra patient. To be slow to speak and slow to become angry. And for the most part, over the last 16 weeks, I have found a special place in my heart for those tough students. I have been able to identify the beauty in them, and allow it to outshine the other parts.

Except for one student.

Even in knowing his story, the things he has experienced, and the struggles he is battling now, I have had the most difficult time extending grace and covering him in love.

Every single day I walk away from school feeling that I have failed him once again, and praying that tomorrow I will be better.

Better at giving second and third and fourth chances. Better at choosing him for something special. Better at hugging him more. Better at using a kinder tone. Better at responding rather than reacting. Better at loving him.

And the next day I again feel the weight of how I have failed him. Knowing that he deserves better and I am called to be better.

Daily on the way to school I beg my Father to instill in me kindness, mercy, and love, especially for him. I pray to see him the way our Father sees him. And I pray for him to feel the love of our Father through me.

On Thursday I was feeling defeated. I felt like I had prayed and prayed, yet my attitude and actions were no better. I begged my Father that He would give me something to hold onto- some experience or realization that would change my heart and help me to love my student more.

And because our Father is magnificent, He gave me just that.

I was sitting at my Christmas staff breakfast and the principal wanted to share with us a letter from a parent. He described the family situation, and I had a pretty good idea which student’s parent wrote the letter.

The letter voiced how eternally grateful they were for the love that has been shown to their family. Love that they were so in need of. They voiced the pain they have experienced this year, but how the actions of people at our school had reminded them of how loving people can be. And they said that the actions of the people in our school had shown them that there’s still plenty of love in the world.

As the letter was read, I could feel the hardness that had been consuming me melt away. I felt my Father’s touch in such a tender way. I could feel Him wrapping me up in His arms and embracing me in all my dirtiness.

This was exactly what I had needed.

I could feel Him saying, “Here, Morgan. Despite the fact that you feel as though you are not enough, that you need to be better, and that you are failing, my power is made perfect in weakness. I am working through you, and that boy and his family are feeling my love.”

There was my moment. Out of His glorious riches He had met me exactly where I needed to be met, and He had given me exactly what I had asked for.

You see, I have never had to beg my Father daily to help me truly love a child, so this was hard for me. I felt ugly and sinful. I felt undeserving and ill equipped. I felt exhausted and hopeless.

But as we know, Christmas is a time of hope. Because without the Savior being born to us, we would be left here to continue failing our Father with no hope of ever being enough.

We not only have hope in eternity, but we have hope right now. Hope that in our shortcomings, He is right behind us filling the gaps. That when we aren’t good enough alone, He partners with us and makes our work worth something incredible. Hope that when we need Him to meet us, He always does. That when we fail, He still wins.

Our Savior, God’s son, that little precious baby we celebrate- He is our hope always. Every minute of everyday, it is because of the hope we have in Him, that we can boldly walk through this world, and do our best to spread love, knowing that He is working through us.

We celebrate Christmas because it was the moment that took us from hopeless to hopeful.

The birth of our Savior impacts our everyday and our every moment. It is what makes us worth something, and what allows us to live in such intimacy with our Father.

It is what takes me from a failing, unloving, and frustrated teacher, to someone who is a vessel through which our Father is sharing His love.

This is the reason we celebrate.

Merry Christmas, my girl.

All my love,

Sissy