Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Hanging Up A Hat

Over the years we have all had the pleasure and displeasure of picking up and wearing different types of "hats."  Some of the hats we may have liked but others we didn't care for at all. Such as wearing the hat of being a spouse, sibling, friend, child, employee, employer, caregiver, parent, medical problem, abused, encourager, follower, and many other things. 

Some of these hats may be worn all the time while others are as seasonal as a rain or sun bonnet or ski cap. It doesn't matter if we love our current hat or not there comes a time when some hats have to be hung up. Such as the elder person who at last has to make the decision to give up their "hat" of being a licensed driver. This kind of decision is something we all face sooner or later. 

Today when I was at Bible study the Sunday School director for the kids ministry came up to me to ask a question. It was a question she has asked before over the last three years but today's answer was what was different. "Karen' she said. 'Do you think you can keep on teaching your preschool and kindergarten class?"  It was a question I had been asking myself but one I didn't want to deal with. Without hesitation but with plenty of tears I told her "no."

I couldn't believe I actually said 'no' to her. As we hugged and cried and hugged some more I kept telling her how sorry I was. I had been teaching small kids and some older ones too since I was an 8th grader myself. The only thing that was supposed to stop me from teaching was death itself. Even when I was disabled with epilepsy someone would pick me up and drive me to where I taught a Good News Fellowship Club at a local grade school.  For years I was a director for daily vacation bible school, craft leader, and teacher. 

However, currently with my additional new growth of cancer and increase in pain the tables were suddenly turning on me. It was time to hang up a hat I had worn over fifty years. One of my favorite hats. A hat I held dear. How was I going to be able to go home and walk into my office with all my teaching tools present I had collected over the years and look at them without crying. I had no clue. 

Much to my surprise when I got home what jumped out of my closets were not the stored puppets and drawings I used over the years but memories instead. Such as the memories of the pie a student threw in my face. The broken finger I got praying for another student when I was so heavily involved in the prayer I didn't notice my finger was still in the door jam as I shut the door. Also how could I ever forget the brother and sister team who tied me to my chair and held me captive till their parents arrived. Then there was the middle school child that was dropped off suddenly at the church camp where I was a counselor that was abandoned by her parents and I was the friend she was in need of at the time. Or the student I tried to convince to flunk kindergarten just so he could stay in my class. 

All were great memories to hold on to that was for sure. Truly over the years the kids had an impact on my life and I can only pray I impacted theirs as well. Gone may be the days of pretend tea parties, rocks being shoved up little boys noses, play dough stuck to carpet, sliding in fear down water slides and participating in Christmas plays but what will remain forever is the list of the kids I had taught. 

A list I collected over time of the students who had come across my path over the years. One I used to pray for the kids, to think about them and to enjoy the news of their spiritual progress long after leaving my classroom. Such as the student who was just baptized in his 30s who I had taught so long ago along with his many other teachers that worked so hard to plant a seed towards a harvest yet to be grown. 

Whether it's quick results or time delayed harvests it doesn't matter. The rewards of teaching over the years has been tremendous for me. I only wish I could have done more. If I could I would be more than happy to flunk cancer just to stay in my class but it doesn't work that way. 

Still remains in my heart are the words of the scripture I was given my first time I directed a daily vacation Bible school out of Isaiah 6:8. "I heard the voice of the Lord saying: Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, here am I, send me."  

"Lord, I sadly but proudly hang up my hat as preschool Sunday school teacher but wherever You can use me I will follow. Here I am and always will be, send me."

In love WITH Jesus,



nani said...

I know this has to be so hard, but you are right! You have touched so many lives in the years you have spent loving on these kids...the ripples you started will spread out of their lives long after the direct influence you have on their lives! I love you my friend!

Karen said...

It has been an honor to teach over the years. A blessing I will always cherish.

Miriam Pauline said...

I am sorry you have had to step down from a ministry you enjoy. How difficult it is. Still praying for you. Blessings...Mipa