October 15, 2008

shepherd of my soul

i've had so many amazing experiences this week. i wish i could write them all down. most of them have to do with feeling God's complete and incomparable love for His children. He loves me. He loves you. i don't use the word "love" lightly; i know He truly loves us. i know He loves my students more than i could ever love them, but i do love them. each one! a select few are more challenging than others, but i still love them. they are amazing, strong, and so very, very inspiring.

as their teacher, i require them to write at least ten meaningful journal entries each term. As the first term comes to a close, i've read some of my students' entries and continually stand in awe. total awe. some of my students are dealing with multiple family member tragedies {ex: cancer, abandonment, excommunication, death, ... you name it}. their faithfulness and sincere desire to feel of Heavenly Father's love for them is simply ... beautiful!

i've said it so many times, and i'll continue to say it: i have no idea how i got here! how could i be so insanely blessed to have this opportunity, blessing, responsibility, and - yes - trial? i don't know. but i'll take it! i wouldn't trade it for anything else. regardless of what happens in the future, i will forever remember these sixty 9th graders and the spirit, enthusiasm, love, and hunger for knowledge they possess. these beautiful souls bless my life in infinite ways. the Lord is so good to me.

today i gave my second lesson on the Savior's invitation to "come into me" (from matthew chapter 11) and it was beautiful. we did this lesson in a 'silent seminary' format where nobody talked and everything was laid out on a slide show. this provided time and opportunity for each student to ponder the Savior's words and what that principle has to do with their individual lives.

at the end of the presentation, i played the new testament video segment #1 entitled "come unto him". my mom has told me innumerable times that these seminary videos helped form and strengthened her testimony when she was a youth struggling to find meaning in her life. segment #1 is beautiful and usually moves me to tears. there's a certain part that always gets me: a portrayal of the Savior getting His feet kissed, washed with tears, dried with hair, and smoothed with ointment by a woman who has sinned - a lot. He tells simon something to the effect of: "a certain man had two debtors; one owing fifty pence and one owing five hundred. when it came time to pay, neither had any money to give. the man frankly forgave them both. who, then, do you think loved him more?"

this story touches me so deeply. it reminds me that when we come to Christ with a broken heart and a contrite spirit seeking repentance, He will frankly forgive us of our sins. those who don't often feel the need to repent have probably forgotten their utter dependence on the one who gives them their freedoms and their every breath. those who have sinned and feel they have no right to ask for forgiveness, ... when they finally do repent, feel all the more love for their merciful Redeemer who gives them life. how blessed we truly are for Savior, the "shepherd of our souls".