My heart aches tonight. God has been calling me to step into painful places to love hurting people. Any of you who know me at all, know that I am not a morning person, yet these days I lay awake at 6:00 am whispering the words, “Wherever you need me today Lord, I will go.” Some days the phone doesn’t ring and so I proceed with the day watching for God’s activity as I do the normal things that a busy mother of five does. But other days, the startling sound of the ringer in our silent house makes my heart leap in a rush of adrenaline. As the first rings passes and I reach for the phone, I say again, “Wherever you need me today Lord, I will go.” Substitute teaching. Something I never thought I would do. What a challenge and yet what an opportunity to love kids.
About two weeks ago I was called to go for a half day to a Special Needs Unit at GJR, a residential facility for boys in my area. The boys in these units aren’t part of the normal group home/ school environment that most of the boys are in, but instead in small self-contained units that act as their home and school with many different people coming and going to care for them and keep them in line. This particular unit only has 5 boys a the current time, down from the usual 8-10. At first I was nervous about going, not knowing what to expect. When I got there, it was intimidating at first, and then something happened. I saw 5 hurting young men who were hungry for love, respect, and someone who would see past the garbage to their heart. I was only there 1/2 a day, but those boys were sealed in my heart.
This past Thursday afternoon, while I was in for a middle school science teacher, I got a message saying that they needed me to sub all day Friday at that same unit at GJR. My heart leaped…. “yes!” I’ll be there. I wasn’t sure I would ever see them again. What was I going to do with them? What would we talk about? What would I teach? And then it came to me, John Wooden. John Wooden would be just perfect. My boys had a tear off calendar for 2011 that was a quote a day from one of the best and most respected coaches of all time, John Wooden. That was it, we would make journals using the quotes and other thought-provoking questions about themselves. We would work on concepts like respect, friendship, loyalty, teamwork. I could hardly sleep. In fact the Lord woke me at 4:00am and all I could think about was those 5 boys. I got up to get ready and to pray for them and that the day would go well. That somehow the Lord would allow our time together to be life changing for them.
It was a great day. So much I could tell, but can’t. But it was a great day. But to be honest, my heart has been aching since I left. I just wanted to pack them up and bring them home with me, knowing that each one, although a challenge, was not all that different from my own. So many people work there everyday, making a difference. It is hard work working with tough cases and kids who are unpredictable, hurt and angry. I appreciate that when I get the rare call to go, I am just giving another a much-needed break from the work that they do day in and day out without a lot of appreciation from anyone. But one of the men who came in to take over for the afternoon shift as I was leaving yesterday was so unlovely. I am sure that he has had to put up with a lot of crap from these kids and from others through the years, but I just had an ache in my gut as I left. Lord, equip all of those men and women who work there every week and help them to be grace filled, respectful and full of love as they do the hard work that you have assigned to them.
Can one person make a difference? I have to believe so. But when you ask the Lord to break your heart with the things that breaks his, he does. And when you allow him to use you wherever you are needed, he will. And when you step into the lives of hurting people, he will use you to love them, and you will. But then….. how do you go back to your life without the ache in your heart? That I have not figured out yet. But I will lay my head back down on my pillow each night and whisper the same prayer, “Lord, wherever you need me tomorrow, I’ll go.” And then I’ll just have to choose to rest in him and trust that he will always equip us when he calls us. He will work all things together for good for those who love him and are called. The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and he saves those who are crushed in spirit.
If you are looking for some great quotes, wonderful inspiration for the team you coach, the kids you teach or the ones you are raising in your home. Go to www.coachwooden.com Or just google John Wooden and check out his pyramid to success. Great stuff there. Make a choice to make a difference in someone elses life. You won’t ever regret it.