I had my first school parent coffee in Texas.
Yep, that’s right. I did it. I checked in, showed my license, put on my name tag and entered the scariest place of all…the middle school lunch room.
I have to say it has gotten much better. It’s still not easy but I’m okay. I can enter without the panic of, “Who will I sit with?”
Being new to town and the school and the state and well…just NEW in that way that feels sort of confusing but also funny because there is no way you can hide it. I mean, I walked in and started wandering around and a teacher asked me, “Are you lost?” and I thought about answering, “Honey, you don’t know the half of it.” Literally, just getting to the school was a major feat. Needing to know where the lunch room is is way beyond. I just can’t.
So, it’s obvious.
Thank God I ran into someone I did know right away. By saying I know her, I mean I met her once and I thought it was her so I approached and thank God she recognized me and we started chatting. I guess maybe the lunch room hasn’t changed that much. We still look for someone to sit with. I’ve just become much braver. And wiser. And more comfortable in my skin. Which takes a lot of years of walking into the lunchroom, board room, dorm room, new job, new neighborhood…you get my point.
The Principal started talking and I realized that this school, this experience, this whole Texas thing…is different. He said he started in education in 1953. I was doing the math in my head and he clarified…that’s when he started FIRST GRADE. And he said, He’s “loved education ever since”. His title is Dr. so I know he’s gone to a lot of schooling but I couldn’t give a hoot. (Don’t I sound southern already?) I was more interested in what he said about the CULTURE and how important it is to him. He talked about when he was a principal before and he was widowed and he suffered so much and he just couldn’t do it anymore so he retired. He said he couldn’t “run the race” anymore.
He said he was blessed to find a wonderful woman who is his wife now and she brought him back, reminded him of how much he loved being in education and he came out of retirement. He said school is important and he loves it but he loves his wife and family more. That school and learning and accomplishing and all that we do here in this building is really, really important but not as important as your family.
He assured us that even though the school is new and the technology doesn’t work yet and there is confusion and the busses are late…the teachers love our kids and are trying their best and working really hard. He asked for our patience and asked if we could please encourage and support the teachers. He reminded us that we are all in this together.
There was a mom that shared her daughter was not allowed to go to the bathroom because she didn’t have a “pass” so she had an accident. He was mortified and so sorry. He launched into this whole thing.
He said there are 2 camps. “Rules and Regs” and ‘Culture”. He said he’s not much of a rules and reg guy but he knows they are necessary. He’s more into relationships and getting people what they need and OFFERING GRACE.
Of course, this made me cry. Me too! I wanted to shout! Me too! Amen!
There were moms there of course who kept pressing about bathroom passes and the busses and complaining about homework. I was having an out of body experience. I was watching and listening and I wanted to shout!! Did you hear him?!?! We are offering GRACE. It’s about GRACE!! All are doing their best!!
Now don’t get me wrong, parents have every right to ask all of those questions and all of the administrators there were lovely and accommodating and trying their best to help everyone.
It just reminded me of how we get sometimes about God and Religion. We put all the rules and regulations in. We start keeping score. We demand. We perform. We measure. We get so tired we can’t “run the race” anymore. We forget that we are in this together. We get so worried about people having a “pass” that we don’t see they are about to have an accident right in front of us. We don’t recognize the suffering. We make them jump through hoops. We abandon. We criticize. We humiliate. This is love? This is Christian living?
But then Jesus comes in and goes, “Hey, guess what? I’m not much of a rules and reg guy. I’m here to offer grace.” He assures us that he loves us and he’s for us and he cares about our CULTURE. He sets us FREE. To go to the bathroom or whatever. He says, “You don’t need a pass…I AM THE PASS!!!” You are all good.
Okay so at the end of an hour of people questioning, complaining, etc…a woman stood up. She stood up and said, “I want to thank you. For coming in here and talking about CULTURE and GRACE and for making it a priority to make this a GOOD, KIND place that offers understanding and support and encouragement.” Actually, I have no idea what else she said. But she was tracking with what I was feeling and a lot of other people in the room. I couldn’t even hear her.
I was crying Holy Spirit tears and shaking my head and saying “Amen!”
Because honestly, he’s a principal but he’s also a missionary. Right here. In Texas. In the Middle school lunchroom.
It was a lunch room.
But it felt more like Church.
©2014 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™, All Rights Reserved