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Tonight as Tim and I were driving around I saw the sign for a church stating PALM SUNDAY WORSHIP AND PICNIC!

It was undoubtedly the announcement for last Sunday’s service.  And just like last Sunday a part of me, bigger than I would like to admit, grumbled, so irritated by this repeated excitement.

Confession: I left church on Palm Sunday.

I know, I know, it isn’t right, but what is done is done.  We had raced out the door of our apartment to make it on time.  As we walked into the service I was handed a palm leaf, nice.  A speaker took to the stage as we found our seats, enthusiastically reading from one of the Psalms.  It was about a king, and gates, and a lot of joy. I took a deep breath and tried to convince my heart to resonate with the reading, but this wouldn’t happen. I found my heart shutting down and I just could not join in the excitement. 

My grumbling heart was not honoring to the Lord, and so I asked Tim if we could leave.  He is so patient and kind, and as soon as we walked out the door His first question was “do you want to talk about it?”  I love him deeply.

I got on Facebook today to find pictures of smiling kids with palm leaves only to feel disappointed in my inability to appreciate the celebration most people were experiencing.

Is it because I’m going through this time of questioning?  Do I have a dark and cold heart?

So today as we drove and I once again could not react to this excitement proclaimed in all caps, I grumbled. 

This Lenten season I chose to journal my journey to the cross, but after my experience the past few days, it seemed my journaling had been futile.

I came home and curled up on the couch ready to seek answers to more of my questions, choosing to read “The Problem of Pain” by C.S. Lewis.  However a few pages in I began to randomly flip through the rest of my book which is a collection of his writings.  I flipped open to “A Grief Observed” and I was instantly taken by the personal introduction written by his step son. Douglas Gresham explained that this work had been a product of Lewis’s grief after losing his wife.  Each heart felt word kept pulling me further into his writing.

“I have no photograph of her that’s any good.  I cannot even see her face distinctly in my imagination… But her voice is still vivid.  The remembered voice – that can turn me at any moment to a whimpering child.”

 Can you imagine that pain? Can you imagine that loss? Some of you may not have to because it is already all too real, and for that I am so incredibly sorry.

I read this, and I cry, deeply.  Sorrow reaches into the deepest parts of my heart and soul.  I read this and I cry because I know that this separation will one day be all too real for us as well.  Tim and I. One day, most likely, one of us will be without the other. I can’t imagine, I don’t want to imagine my life without this beloved partner and friend I have. I feel incomplete without Him. I can’t imagine, I don’t want to imagine him living a life where I can’t console him.

It may be silly to think in this way, I can hear people now: “Enjoy what you have now!” “Don’t worry about tomorrow!”

Here is the reason I am allowing these emotions to seep so deeply tonight.  Yesterday the church celebrated Jesus riding in on a donkey, Sunday we will celebrate him raising from the dead, but before that, on Friday, we will mourn his death.

Friday, we remember what he did, and we must also remember why: separation.

He from we.

I don’t want my words to ruin this powerful story, I am going to try to do it justice now.

He made us.  Why us? I don’t know. He made us. He loved us. Why? I don’t know. He and we shared everything, until the day we chose we before He.  He was our creator and our truest lover, and his heart was broken.  He was separated, like a groom from his bride. Can you imagine the agony He must have felt? Why would He subject Himself to this? I don’t know.

But because of our choice we and He were separated. We were separated like death separates loved ones.  And the resulting grief was as real as the grief of a husband for his dead wife.

How do I know that He felt the pain of separation from us?  Because of everything He did to get us back.  The story is long, stretching thousands of years, the people change, the kingdoms change, but the story does not: A God desperate to end the separation between Him and His creation.  A God desperate to end the death we chose, so desperate, He was willing to die Himself.

This is the story of Friday.  And without this, Sunday will have lost all significance.  We cannot celebrate if we cannot remember the depth of His grief in our death and separation from Him.  We cannot sing praise until we willingly mourn the reason this season exists in the first place.

We were separated from the love of our life.  You were separated from the love of your life.  I was separated from the love of my life.

 Because He chose to chase after, because he created a story that seamlessly weaves itself together over thousands of years and through countless people, because he ends this separation in death, which is our consequence, because we observe his grief on Friday we raise our hands on Sunday and our hearts are full of joy.

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Ok, so this lesson is actually not solely my mom’s, it was kind of the Hughes family motto (yes, we are so awesome that we have our own motto… which may or may not have been stolen from one of the best films of our time).  Ever since we went to see Galaxy Quest for our family movie night, it has been our mission to never give and to never surrender.  I think this is one of the most valuable lessons my family taught me, and this learned attitude has carried me through a lot.

When I didn’t make drill team the first year never give up when I was tired after an all nighter at the end of finals week never surrender when I felt like I had lost all my drive to get through this life never give up when graduation felt like it would never come never surrender when depression and self hatred overwhelmed me never give up and when anxiety tried to win me over never, ever, surrender.  This attitude has seen me through many trials, and for that I thank my family (whom I miss so much).

And now, once again I’m at a mountain that seems impossible to climb.  This mountain is the respect and trust of my students.  Ah my students, my moody, emotional, crazy, unpredictable, have a millon other things in life to worry about, students.  How much I love them can not be written in words.

You see, I work at an alternative education school, so the kids that I work with have been failed by the school system thus far, have had very bad experiences at school, and therefore do not LIKE school, teachers, or administration one bit.  So on a fairly regular basis I can expect to see crying, yelling, mocking, ignoring, and my personal nonfavorite eye rolling.  My kids are awesome kids, don’t get me wrong, they just haven’t seen it yet.

Gosh, I just love them.  So much.

Everyday when I go to school I wish I could just take the love that is on the inside of me and put it on the outside so people could see it.  Because in my mind, if they could just see the real love that I have for them the walls would all just come down and we could work together to help them towards the life they want for themselves.

And though I can not do this, I can.

I have come to understand that the only way to show my students the Love that lives in my heart is through my actions.

Continually serving them and pursuing their trust never give up not becoming disheartened on the bad days never surrender giving each day my all never give up  treating them consistently with kindness and compassion despite how yesterday may have been never surrender when they yell and get upset, I turn the other cheek never give up when they shut down and ignore me, I lovingly push with empathy to find the reason behind the behavior rather than trying to correct the behavior in and of  itself never surrender taking my role and time with them seriously never give up and most importantly though I discipline, I never ever judge never surrender. 

I have come to understand that the only way to show my students the Love that lives in my heart is through my actions. I only hope that the human inside of me does not get in the way.

I am learning, slowly.  I make mistakes each day.  I’m too quick to judge or too passive to help them learn from their own mistakes.  But I am searching for a balance between these two, and I am leaning on the Love that changed my heart and makes me capable of loving others.  On the good days I celebrate, on the bad days I learn and move on.  I take the good and I leave the bad, because right now I can’t afford to give up, and I can not afford to surrender to the challenges.  I was made to love and be loved, and I will love these students with all my strength until I run out and have to use a little of His, because these students were made to be loved, so that is just what I will do. 

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