Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Well, in Whoville they say that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day.

Most of you know—but for those of you who do not, I am in my first year of teaching at an inner city school in Jackson, MS. How did I end up here you may ask. Nathan and I had to move to the Jackson area for Nathan’s 5th year of Pharmacy School. I knew this year was coming from the beginning—but I have been dreading it from the beginning as well! One of the biggest issues with us moving was me finding a job in a jobless market. Long story short—I decided to become a teacher! For months, I looked for a job at a school down here, but with no connections to people here, it became a daunting task. TWO DAYS before our move-in date, I was called for an interview at a middle school in Jackson and got the job that day! I KNEW God’s hand was in this. Why else would I be here?

And so starts my journey…

When I first started, the piece of advice I seemed to get over and over was don’t smile until Thanksgiving. It is two days away from Thanksgiving break and I have only let a select few see my pearly whites. There has been such a culture shock for me teaching at this school. NOTHING could have prepared me for what I would experience this year. There have been six fights IN MY CLASSROOM alone. I get yelled at daily by my STUDENTS. My life has been threatened. Students laugh at me when I get on to them. The level of disrespect is unbelievable. Sometimes I wonder if I can EVER be nice to them. I feel like a mean, mean person all the time at school. So… How can THIS be what God intended it to be like for me this school year? How can I possibly show them God’s love when I am constantly dealing with behavior problems? This has been extremely frustrating for me over the past four months.

However, in the past couple of weeks, there has been a slight change of heart. My heart. I am slowly starting to understand these kids. I will never fully understand where they come from, but I understand more why they act the way they do. These kids come from poverty-ridden homes. Their natural response to others is disrespect. They do not know how to respond when I put my hand on their back and talk to them in a calm manner (as opposed to yelling obscenities and slapping them). The sad thing about these students is that the majority of them have so much potential, and yet in many cases the only person in their lives to pull this potential out of them is their teachers! There are not enough school hours in the day to reach every student like that. I have gotten to know my students better over the past four months, and it breaks my heart to know that many don’t go home to a loving, happy home (like I was so blessed to have growing up). Lately, when I come home from school, I am crying for different reason than why I did in the beginning. No one has the time to deal with every students' problems, but I know what my plan is for now. I am going to pray for them daily… by name. This is all I know to do, and I feel if I am faithful in this, God will open doors or show me what to do from here.

Does this (slight) change of heart mean everything is better and I will love my job and never want to leave? Um… no. But it will get me through this year.

Who knows, maybe by the end of the year, my heart will be three times bigger…



  1. Anna, I love love this post. I can tell just from talking to you that there has been a change in the way you view your days. I am so happy you are seeing God's hand in all this madness!
    It's so easy for people (and by people, I am talking about myself first and foremost) to sit back and judge all the kids for acting the way they do. But you are so right. We have NO IDEA the kind of home they come from. They are a product of their environment, and but for God's grace alone, we could all be in the same situation. Nobody chooses the family/life they are born into. I don't think that is an excuse to tolerate all behavior, but it should certainly make us more compassionate.
    I love hearing your stories and learning from you. You are such an inspiration to me, and I am so so proud of you and the way you are handling this year.

  2. The change in your heart over the past several days/weeks has been pretty incredible to watch. This has been something about which I've been praying for you daily! On the sheet from Hope about "Praying for your wife's spiritual growth", one of the items was praying for your wife's "love for others." The paper says, "I pray that Anna will be filled with a godly love for others that reaches out with compassion. Grant her a servant's heart for others and their needs." And it is basing this prayer off of Matthew 20:28 which says, "Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." I love you so much Annie, and I'm so proud of the heart of compassion that you have developed for these children.

  3. What a great testimony, Anna! And what an answer to prayer!

  4. I am smiling through tears, as I did when I read Corrie's last post. It is inspiring to see both you girls working in God's perfect placement, and yet in places so very different. He is preparing you through these experiences for a future that only He can see (Corrie ten Boom said it better, but that's close. :) Love, mom

  5. Anna, can your heart get any bigger???

  6. Aw sweet post, girl. I can't imagine what it must be like doing what you do each day but its encouraging that you are doing what is necessary for your family and now what God wants for your life. Who knows if the road will get easier now or tougher, but at least you are submitting yourself to what God wants you to learn from this situation and that's a great place to be!

  7. I loved this post! Such a great way to think about these kids... I know it's been so tough but you've done great! Way to go Anna bo! Love you!