Struggling through life’s many questions

“If you keep down the path you have chosen, you will fail.”

Unfortunately, I have been saying this a lot lately. I feel like a broken record with the same motivational speech. The sad thing is most of the students on the other end of that speech are deaf to my words. They have such a fixed mindset that they truly believe that they are destined to be a failure.

In my class. In life.

Semester exams are fast approaching and the call has been made from the top of the organization: do all we can to get through to the students the importance of passing. The message is pretty clear around here – push, pull, drag and even carry kids to the finish line.

I’m deeply humbled by the faculty at my new school. I see that every single one of them are here because they have a passion for young people. They endure a barrage of disrespect, non-compliance and, at times, outright rebellion. They keep coming back for more. Teachers at my school are like Rocky Balboa. No matter how much punishment they take, they keep getting back up. Relentless.

At the same time I am saddened by the fact that, in many cases, the teachers care more about the education and future of these students than the students themselves. We are charged with motivating them and preparing them for the future and for many that seems to be a losing battle. “I don’t care about this.” “This is stupid.” “You doin’ too much!” These statements are frequently heard by me and my fellow teachers.

So where is the line between compassion and tough love? Wouldn’t the message be crystal clear if we allow them to fail? Are we setting them up for an even bigger failure by holding their hands until they leave and no one holds it anymore as they try and tackle college? I find myself constantly asking myself this question, “Why am I doing this?” Why am I calling parents? Why am I chasing down students to turn in work so they can pass my class? Why do I care more than they do? What’s the point?

I know there will be success stories that come from our school. I know that right now I could be a part of it and not even realize it. But mostly all I see is an unstoppable cycle of apathy, rage and confusion. A student asked me yesterday what the word “inevitable” meant. I was tempted to say, “You know like it’s inevitable that you will probably drop out of college.” Of course I did not, and for the record I didn’t want to tell him that on the spot – I’m not that cruel. 😉

The point is this: I am completely torn. On one hand I see how important it is to do everything in my power to keep that student in his desk, in my classroom and in this school. If he fails high school he may be doomed. If he drops out he is doomed. Failure in those scenarios actually will be inevitable.

I am also torn because I often ponder what could have been if someone in my life – an authority figure let’s say – stepped in and gave me the speech that I needed. “If you keep feeding your porn addiction you will destroy your life and the lives of the people closest to you.” I wouldn’t want to hear it, undoubtedly. I might have even rejected it completely. If that speech would have happened and it motivated me to act – my life would be very different. Obviously I try not to dwell on such things because the past cannot be changed.

But then I think about the timing of everything. Maybe I needed to fail. Maybe hitting the bottom was the only way I would get the message. It’s the only way recovery can work – because I have to want it for myself. If someone gave such a speech to me and I didn’t believe it in my own heart then nothing would change.

I truly believe I am changing. God is able to change me now. One year ago that change was impossible. It was impossible because I didn’t desire for it to happen. I wasn’t willing to do anything and everything to get better. My heart was in a steel trap – shut up tightly and impossible to be penetrated.

Welp, not sure I cleared anything up in his blog – probably quite the opposite! I still wrestle with everything from timing to the what ifs to the whys. Everyone who goes through similar life struggles do as well I’m sure. Processing is good. Questioning I think can be good too.

But trusting is the best.





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