Friday, April 4, 2014

reflection friday: a love story

It's been a while since I've done a Reflection Friday - so it's time to do another! As I've mentioned before in this blog, 2010 was an incredibly difficult year for me. I lost my grandmother that year, my family had to put our dog down, I was having an incredibly bad year financially, my roommate and I had an extremely toxic living situation (with one another, not the place itself), I had people hurt me in ways that are not worth putting into words. I was aching deeply, and it was affecting everything that I did. 

I have worked at my current job for almost five years now. I've talked about it before, but to remind you - I'm the music director at a performing arts high school. I could write a book about how this school has changed and impacted my life. I've grown up there - literally. When I graduated from college, I got a phone call from the musical theatre teacher at this school. We'll call it HSPA (High School for Performing Arts). She called me 5 days after I graduated offering me a job and I accepted. I had prayed and prayed that God would just throw something in my lap after graduation, because I was clueless. Graduating with a degree in drama didn't give a whole lot of direction - so I prayed and trusted, and God seriously came through.

So I started working at HSPA, intending only to be there for one musical. Here I am, almost five years later, and my students and co-workers have made me into the woman I am today. There are many, many stories of how this job has impacted my life and I know I will never be able to tell them all. Or even thoroughly express how deeply and intensely these moments and my students and co-workers have changed and enriched my life.

But this one moment is one I will never forget and one that touched me so deeply that it completely changed my life and re-set the course I was on. It reminded me of God's grace, His beauty, His love.

For the last few months of 2010, my students and I were working on a production of Little Women. My students at this point knew me well enough to know something was going on. I was not doing well. I was so depressed and in such a dark place, and no matter what I did, my students knew me and knew I was not okay. Our show opened in December, right before Christmas, and it went beautifully. My students sang their hearts out and made me so proud. And then we had our cast party - our traditional party that we have after the closing night of every show. We go to a cast member's house and eat and chat and celebrate our show and each other. This particular cast party, I had a friend come with me. I walked him out to his car and spent a few minutes saying goodbye.

When I re-entered the house, all of my students - every single one - were standing in the foyer of the house, waiting for me. Right when I walked in, all of them joined in song. Just for me. No one else was in the room. They were waiting for me. And they sang, in overwhelmingly beautiful harmony, the song of my heart - my favorite Christmas song:

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night, Oh night divine

And I remembered then when Brandon had asked me what my favorite Christmas song was. He knew. He knew that my heart needed this. My students singing and praising God with their voices just for me. 

As they sang, I melted to the floor. I sat down and wept and looked at my students, giving every ounce of the love in their hearts in the best way they knew how. Through song. My heart was so healed that night.

I had convinced myself - or the enemy had convinced me - that I was unworthy of love. That no one loved me. I was alone. I was worthless.

But looking in these children's eyes, there was no. possible. way for me to deny that they love me. That I am worthwhile. That I am not alone. I am so loved, whether I feel like I deserve it or not. How can you deny the love of children? It is so pure, so innocent, so full. (And yes, teenagers are still children. It is the dichotomy and mystery and beauty of teenagers and what I love the most - they are just as much children as they are adult. It's an amazing thing to witness and be a part of.) 

The love of children is life-changing, life-giving, grace-giving-to-the-point-of-drowning-in-it, pure, whole, beautiful. Just beautiful.

And my life was changed. I have never been so sure of how loved I am than in that moment. And that was the moment I knew everything was going to be okay. That if they love me, God must love me, too. 

December 12, 2010 -- my facebook status from that day

There is nothing in this world that could have healed my aching heart like all my students singing "O Holy Night" just for me. "To learn and never be filled, is wisdom; to teach and never be weary, is love." Thank you for picking my heart up every time the weariness starts to take over.

To teach and never be weary, is love. Yes. But to teach and be weary and never give into weariness, that is even bigger love. And to see past your own weariness and love someone else through theirs? That is the biggest love of all. To be shown that kind of love will change your life forever. My heart is forever grateful to know that kind of love. The love of children looking past their own needs, their own wants, their own troubles. Oh that I can learn to love people like that.

"The soul is healed by being with children."

--Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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