There is hardly anything to write these days. Or maybe there is – maybe it’s the time making me sit on my hands or maybe it’s fear that what I say won’t land on ears that care or maybe I just don’t care about being heard anymore.
Kidding. It’s mostly the time.
I started teaching elementary kids this week (something I never thought I’d do) and although the kids are lovely, I cry every morning. Filled with dread and anxiety. There are 30 kids in each room, full blast hope and energy in tiny skin and bones, and then there’s me. I’m alone. Trying to teach grammar while making sure they still know how to say thank you and please and not call each other fat. There’s only one me, and 10 students excelling while the other 20 need to be taught Common and Proper nouns over and over and over before they get it.
To be really honest, they’re too much to handle. I do not know how teachers do it. I see one student with a small score on a quiz and I blame myself that they didn’t understand, that I’m no teacher really.
In one class I finally got the class to participate when I told them to bring out their crayons. All my other attempts were nil – games, storytimes, incentives. But I told them to color something and they were over the moon. Kept showing me their work and calling me and I made sure to tell each student that what their hands are making look beautiful – because it really was.
I’m grateful this stint only lasts a month, because that’s the amount of sanity I have left.
I used to ask what this opportunity was for, and now I know – in the past week I was in and out of clinics and labs. I spent more money than I earn. When I said yes to this teaching stint my mind focused on renting a new house, and this paycheck’s gonna boost that, we’re gonna get out of our current shack sooner; I was wrong. I’m frustrated by this. I get sick all the time but this one’s different, and more painful, in all the places, in my knees and joints and in the body parts I use to hope and dream.
I sat in the doctor’s clinic and she said we don’t know for sure. The tests are inconclusive. I’m on one month’s worth of medication and I have to come back and do some more tests. I think about our house. I think about the other night, when my mom sent us to the room because the landlady and her family will have dinner. It happens all the time but it hurt this week, because somehow I felt close, but now I’m catapulted back.
But in my job – I’m grateful I get to work with the people I work with now. Coming in here I heard many stories about them, and they told me they heard stories about me, too. But here we are. Harmoniously working. Praying for each other during lunch breaks. And because of the teaching stint, I’m hardly ever in the office. They’ve been so patient. I’m grateful.
It also means I’m here, after hours, all the time. They finally moved me into their office and I can sense they’re relieved. They need me for so many things. One of my workmate’s wife approached me two sundays ago and thanked me for making the workload of his husband lighter. That made my heart feel light, too.
There are a million projects I want to do here in church. We’re working on one now. I wish I had the same energy for everything – and zero joint pain – but I don’t.
And oh, there is one more thing. Lately, my heart has been angry. Not at one thing in particular. But angry. Brewing. Simmering. Pacing. One minute it’s about old offenses done against me and the next it’s about how I’m not moving forward when everybody else is. I don’t usually get angry, so this is new and scary. The bible says we should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger – I’m not that. I’m aware.
I always wonder why. Sometimes the answer is loneliness – I look around at 9 pm and see paperwork in an empty room. Sometimes it’s neglect – I notice person doesn’t listen intently to me so I drop the conversation. Sometimes it’s invisibility – I share my fears but I get talked over, or fed easy feel-good quotes, or met by fake empathy. Or disinterest. When that happens, my heart stomps around the room, claps its hands to syncopate with what it screams – listen. to. me. Get. out. of. your. own. self. and. please. listen.
When I say this season is hard, please believe me. I find myself in a place where I feel like nobody can relate even if they tried. I know that’s not true. But the loneliness walks with me on my way to work, when I eat, when I talk to my mom when we cook. I’d like to believe this season is meant for Jesus and me. That we’ll go through this and emerge with an unshakeable bond experienced by two people who go through a maze no one has ever gone before. Maybe that’s it. Maybe this is where faiths are glued and soldered and dipped in gold.
But when I look around the room, I hear everyone but me. They see everyone but me. I guess that’s okay. This story will find its place someday. It has to, right?