Lately during worship (which I have come to enjoy far more than before) I have been a) singing (what?!?) and b) finding myself thinking & praying about different students. My most favorite songs are about how the imperfections of humanity are just alright with Jesus, and our population of kids (or let's say teens in general) so magnify their flaws that life - and certainly the possibility of salvation - seems crushingly difficult.
Today our pastor talked about 'calling out' the names not only of those for whom we are thankful and those who have been saved, but also of those we hope to lead to God. This speaks to me because I see so much sadness and distress in the faces (and words) of my students, it can be overwhelming. My job is to teach them creative writing and speech skills. But I can't not try to help them see some brightness in a dark world, to believe for every ugly moment they've endured, a couple better ones are waiting. Of course I do not testify in the classroom - all I have to do is behave around these kids in a way that shows God's love; we don't have to discuss why I am compassionate and understanding (even in the midst of saying "No, I will not let you leave for lunch early, but thanks for asking" or "I'll just hold your phone in this basket for the rest of class, thanks!"). My faith lets me turn over the burden of their hard times and delight in whatever connections we can make.
So I came home today prepared to write a lovely, simple post about the names I will call. And then I got news about a student who took his own life last night. All I can say is I'm calling louder now.