When I was the College & Career Counselor at a private high school, I spent my entire day with students. My job was to meet with every single student during the school year, starting with seniors and working down to the freshmen, to make sure they were on track for graduation and meeting the standards required by the colleges and universities to which they would be applying.
I LOVED that job! It is one of the highlights of my young adult life. I was 23 years old when I accepted the position, and spent the following three years enjoying the unique energy, enthusiasm, and zest for life that can only be found in teenagers.
My office was filled with hundreds of college catalogs, posters, financial aid applications, and SAT packets. My desk was clear but for one old-school computer, a multi-line telephone, and my always-present-and-absolutely-necessary roll of Scotch tape. Two comfy chairs were stationed next to my desk inviting students to sit and relax while they asked questions and voiced their concerns about the future. Sometimes we talked about college admission requirements, and sometimes we talked about life.
I loved my kids. Some of them were confident, secure, focused on the Lord, and supported and loved at home. Others were broken, hurting, and needed someone to listen to the cry of their hearts, regardless of what came tumbling out of their mouths.
Difficult struggles, countless tears - laughter, excitement, and successes.
All of these were shared in that little office, with mutual trust and affection.
What a privilege I was given to be a part of their lives for that time.
I will never forget it.
On my desk sat one personal item.
A small frame in which I had written the words, "What if I'm the One?"
I was challenged with that question after reading something - I don't even remember what it was. But it resonated deeply with me because I realized that I had a unique opportunity every day to make a difference in the lives of each student that walked into my office, sat in my chairs, or passed me in the halls.
What if I'm the only one who will offer him a kind word today?
What if I'm the only one who will smile at her?
What if I'm the only one who will tell her she is smart?
What if I'm the only one who will give a much needed hug?
A word of encouragement?
An enthusiastic response to his achievement?
I was profoundly convicted by these questions, and equally motivated by them. I wanted to make sure that every time students left my office they felt BETTER than they did when they arrived. I was not perfect, of course, but I can honestly say that I sought to give my best to my students. I loved them, pursued them, invested time in them, cried with them, and rejoiced with them. And we enjoyed each other.
That little frame kept me focused. Because there were hard days.
Angry parents. Bad report cards. Missed deadlines. Rejection letters. Defiance. Sin. Disappointments. LIFE.
When you are 17 years old, everything in life seems big - and forever.
Asking myself, "What if I'm the One?" reminded me that college scholarships and straight A's were not the priority. The only thing that mattered at the end of the day was if my students felt valued ... appreciated ... respected ... and loved. Not just by me, but by a wonderful, amazing, and holy God who created them with a purpose and a plan, and loved them - just as they were - flaws and all.
I'm sure I missed many opportunities to speak this beautiful truth into the lives of those precious kids due to my own immaturity and foolishness, but I am confident the Lord filled in those gaps, and did His work despite my ineptitude.
It has been almost twenty years since I sat at my desk gazing at that little frame, and I am more convinced of its truth now than I ever was then. So much so that I can say this with unwavering certainty: Every time the Lord gives me the privilege of reuniting with one of my students, I will never, ever miss the opportunity to speak truth to them. Face to face. Eye to eye. Encouraging them with the truth that they are valuable, worthy, important, needed, and loved.
And then reminding them that they are created by a God who adores them, wants them, pursues them, and will never, ever let them escape His strong grip.
I may not be the "only one" who stirs them up to love and good deeds, or screams and cheers as they run the race set before them, but I most definitely want to be at the finish line applauding and rejoicing as they cross over to hear the Father say, "Well done, my faithful one! Enter in."
Oh, what a joyous day that will be!
To my sweet, fun, faithful, diligent, tender-hearted, and loving students at BCHS ... you always have been, and will always remain, a precious part of my past. I loved you then, and I love you still. And I will always, always pray for you. Michelle