Ahh … February. This short but mighty month sweeps in with its arrival temperatures capable of freezing flesh in under five minutes, the romantic reveries of Valentine’s Day, another birthday for both Abraham Lincoln and for me, an ambitious 24-hour Cadet drama production (in-process as I write), state tournament conclusions to the winter sports seasons, and research papers.
While the grading time for an English teacher can be overwhelming at times, I do enjoy seeing the progress my students make as they prewrite, draft, and revise their way to competent communication.
One of my favorite techniques to break down the basics of essay writing in a way that students tend to remember is to teach them ninja writing skills: kick down the door with the thesis statement; one, two, three punch out the main points; and roundhouse with specific, cited, explained textual evidence. Yes, there are actions to go with these reminders, and I am fairly certain there are some stray videos floating around of me sacrificing my personal dignity for the sake of my students’ education.
While it is important to me that my students learn how to write, read, and speak well, those are not the most vital lessons I hope they will carry with them after graduation. Realizing the enormous amount of stress and responsibility many of our students carry (especially the juniors and seniors who face college and career decisions and keeping up with application and scholarship deadlines), I began sharing another mantra in the last few years.
I must give credit to Pastor Paul Griebel for being the original source, but when I sense my students are needing an extra bit of encouragement, I have them repeat this phrase: I am (I am) a dearly loved (a dearly loved) child of God (child of God). I am a dearly loved child of God. I am a dearly loved child of God. I am a dearly loved child of God. Yes, some of them roll their eyes, but then many of them smile. After all, most of them have come to humor my strange ways, and the reminder of such a precious promise makes it easier to smile.
Sometimes the stresses and burdens of life can threaten to overwhelm us, whether 17 or 47, and it is helpful to remind ourselves of God’s basic truths. Because of God’s great love for us and the sacrifice of his son, Jesus Christ, we have the gift of eternal life. Faith in Jesus is the conduit through which we receive this blessing. In Him we have life. In Him we have hope. In Him we have joy. In Him we have peace.
1 John 3:1 states, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” We have the promise that we are dearly loved children of the King of the universe!
So, are you feeling a bit overwhelmed or burdened with the troubles of the world? If so, repeat after me: I am. A dearly loved. Child of God. I am a dearly loved child of God. Revel in the peace of that promise, because that, indeed, is what you are.