Hear Me . . . Whimper

November 26, 2021 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Jane Thornton –

Though I’m not much of a feminist, Helen Reddy’s lyrics, “I am strong. I am invincible. I am woman. Hear me roar,” inspire me to belt them out. I do lay claim to strength of character—obviously not of muscle—whether related to my sex or not, whether evident to others or not, whether justified or not.

My strength has rarely been tested with any severity, but I have presumed to believe I would endure bravely all the trials which the heroines of my beloved novels conquer. Sometimes I have even sunk to the depths of imagining myself graciously suffering through bankruptcy or cancer or widowhood. I tend to ignore prior evidence of the times I’ve sniveled my way through a common cold.

With little credit to myself, although I seem to be taking it, I have enjoyed a fairly successful life. My family relationships are close and encouraging. In both high school and college, I excelled in academics. Blessed with a brain whose left side dominated, I didn’t struggle overmuch with bookwork. My dating life could be judged as weak since it was almost nonexistent. However, that lack meant I didn’t deal with traumatic breakups, and I ended up with the best husband ever, so that area tallies on the win side, too.

Parenthood brought a small hiccup in my confident stride. Still, we didn’t face a lot of ordeals common to many, so we plowed forward. Perhaps I am glossing over a few struggles, but with our kids about grown, I’m proud to plop them in with my successes.

I started teaching as a four-year-old when my sister was a trapped audience. I have taught Sunday School to all ages over many years. I taught writing to homeschoolers. I quit a budding career as an accountant because I felt called to the classroom.

Then I became a public school teacher.

Never have I worked so hard and felt like such a failure. When the student fails, the teacher fails. Progress reports just came out, and my failure rate for seniors bottomed out at sixty percent. That figure is not a typo. Sixty. I want to cry. I have cried. I’m sure I’ll cry some more.

Of course, my defensive reaction blames the kids. They don’t do their work. True. They don’t try. True. They don’t care. True. Those students who do work, try, and care are not failing. However, I have to deal with reality. My job isn’t merely to teach, but to inspire effort and motivation in these teenagers too.

I work long hours, try everything I know, and care immensely—yet statistics attest to my failure. I want to scream at my students, at administrators, and at God, “What am I supposed to do?”

I hope you’re not reading this article expecting a pat answer. I don’t have one. But this semester, God’s words keep reverberating through my spirit. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (II Corinthians 12:9 NIV).

Bring on the power, Lord. I’ve got the weakness.

Last year, when failure rates were high, I had a heart-to-heart with my students, asking what I could do to motivate them. I teared up in front of them and left the room to compose myself, in spite of my acclaimed strength. The next day, they delivered a poster-sized apology, which they all had signed. So, maybe I’m teaching them tender hearts instead of English?

Comment prompt: Where has God used your weakness to show His power?

About Jane Thornton

Jane Thornton, English teacher, wife, and mom of two almost grown children, strives to break free of the automatic boring label attached to those roles. Her two suspense novels eagerly await a willing publisher, and her articles search for inspiration in the humor and tears of life.
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4 Responses to “Hear Me . . . Whimper”
  1. Julie Marx says:

    Love this, Jane. Thanks for always being transparent. You’re a good model to your school kids (even if they don’t realize it until age 30).

  2. Good teachers deserve raises and kudos. It’s never been easy to be a teacher and I can’t imagine these days are easier. Too many electronic distractions. I read about thralls. As in being enthralled. It’s easier to slip into one than out of one.

    Also, I look at people in the stands of football games and wonder how many of them would pay those ticket prices and also vote for a teacher pay raise. Don’t get me started on comparative salaries.

    Anyway, the Lord bless you real good as you try to get these kids to do their best. It’s important. You are important, so hand in there. They are our future.

  3. I made a comment and it got lost in cyberspace. This thing told me I had already said that.

  4. All righty, then! LOL

    Jane, hang in there. You are important. These kids are our future. God bless you and them, too!

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