Fighting and truth.

I’ve got a story I’ve been meaning to share…

Earlier this month I was faced with a circumstance at school that I never thought would happen. So far I’ve noticed many similarities between Korean kids and American kids. I’m a firm believer that cultural differences are a very real thing… but kids are kids no matter where you go on this globe. However, I never thought I’d find myself in the middle of a fight- a FIGHT, you guys- at my little hagwon.

I’ll be honest before I break out the details- it was my fault.

Student A and Student B were talking too much,

I threatened to give them a “bad stamp” (our form of discipline) if they kept interrupting me or talking to each other,

Student A and Student B kept talking,

Student A starts messing with student B, taking his pencil case, punching/hitting him, I

give student A a bad stamp,

Student A and Student B keep messing with each other,

I move Student A to the other side of the room,

Student A starts sobbing and slamming his books and pencil case around.

Class ends, and Student A jumps out of his seat,

marches over to student B and starts threatening him, all up in his face, totally freaking out,

Student B looks like he’s facing godzilla, totally terrified, and of course I have no idea what to do.

They leave the class, and I hear “TEACHER FIGHT!” and the same scene is going on out in the hallway.

After the night was over and all the students had left, I talked about it with my principal and realized that punishing one child more than the other child is a serious offense. I get it. My mistake. Before I left for the night I stopped by her office in case she had any more questions and she told me she would handle it, that I shouldn’t worry, but I cried all the way home.

More than making me feeling like a failure, the whole situation made me realize how much I love my kids- how much I really, really love them.  It made me feel completely helpless to help them. They can’t express themselves to me because I can’t understand what they’re saying. And it made me afraid for them, anxious that they might receive a punishment or scolding from their parents that I felt like I should have received.

Well, friends. I’d never felt more helpless here. It was a horrible few days following this incident. I read into everything my director did/said around me, frantically worried that the incident had caused tension in our relationship. Anytime I saw a parent at the school I would freak out, worried it was one of the boy’s parents coming to yell at me in Korean, or coming to tell the director that they’re pulling their child of the the academy. I feared that the parents would go around saying horrible things about me, or worse, ruining the reputation of the school. When I saw Student A in the principal’s office the next day I literally paced around my office wringing my hands, dying to know how everything would be settled.

I went to a park the next day to pray for my kids before school. It was there, on a bench under bright red leaves where I silently preached the truth of God’s peace to myself: I have the peace of Christ within me, I told myself. I have a wellspring of strength from which I can drink deeply and be revived in every way. I can walk forward from this and know it is not my strength carrying me from day to day, but trusting the strong arms of my Savior to bring me through. This is so freeing! Through this difficult circumstance, I was able to see and know this truth in new ways, in powerful ways, in ways that were pervading my reality to reveal the beauty of depending on Christ in painful feelings of helplessness. This is the paradox: God placed me in that situation and completely stripped me of any control to remind me that I am not alone. He brought me to a place of complete surrender to remind me that He is sovereign.

There under the trees, with that timbered choir, I worshipped. I worshipped my God who leads me by the light of His spirit alone. I am so humbled and grateful for this situation, because it brought me into a place of total trust and dependency upon Christ. There was absolutely nothing I could do- for my kids, for the principal, for the parents, for the academy. I knew the situation would be resolved, and though I felt anxiously sick about it, I had no choice but to leave it in the hands of the Almighty.

As I saw two of my kids in a place I never EVER want to see them in again, and as I cried for them and feared for what might happen to them, I caught a glimpse of the Father’s heart that I’ve never seen before. I was reminded that He is always looking out for us- not in anxiety or fear as I was, but in sovereignty and control. In the same way that I tried so desperately to plead both the boy’s cases, I caught a glimpse of the way Jesus intercedes for us and pleads righteousness for us before God. I love my kids, though I can barely communicate with them. But the Lord loves his kids and proclaims his love in a thousand ways, in a thousand languages, in the morning sun, in the vibrant red and yellow leaves, in the words of others, in His word, by deep laughter, by tight hugs, in good coffee, by His son, by His sacrifice. I tried my best to alleviate the wrong my students had done, but I don’t know- and probably will never know how the situation was resolved. But friends, we know the outcome of our guilty wrongs, and all the fights we’ve gotten ourselves into, and all the problems we’ve faced and all the hurt we’ve walked through, and it’s banished to the ends of the universe. And it’s been replaced with a forever with our Father.

Being the foreigner here, nothing else was ever disclosed to me on how the situation was handled, and after a few days, it was as if the incident never happened. The two boys were friends again, and when I had them in class the following Wednesday they were back to their usual crazy, rambunctious selves that I love so much. In fact, it was the best class I’ve had with them all semester. Another reminder of the Father’s grace and kindness to me, so undeserving. My heart felt so broken after this had happened, but I am thankful it happened because I got a small glimpse of the Father’s compassion and heart-aching love for His kids. And I got a deeper, fuller taste of the gospel through my failure and helplessness.

Please continue to pray that I would remain this dependent on Christ. Pray that I would continue to walk in light of the Spirit’s strength in me, free from fear of failure because I know I will continue to fail in a hundred ways throughout this year. Christ has taken fear of condemnation, doubt, failure and anxiety, and I’m a fool for insisting on caring those heavy loads when I can walk freely. Pray for His spirit of joy, comfort and peace to radiate through me and to somehow be communicated to my kids in a language they can understand. Maybe it never has to be words.

How thankful I am that He is my only hope. How thankful I am to be a teacher, learning and following the greatest Teacher of all. I would be so lost without His truth to guide me.

How comforting to know, He guides us all.


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