Tuesday, October 6, 2009

love is the answer.*

all you need is love.

love can move a mountain.

insert any sort of cliched idea here about love, and you get the general idea.  most people, because these ideas have been used so much and so badly, dismiss them with a quick eye roll and an even quicker change of subject. 

but i think we need to stop doing that.

this weekend was one of my favorite weekends. despite having to change my plans and spend most of it in bed (still grading, but SO SLOWLY and punctuated by naps) because of the persistent case of the YUCKS that we have, we still got the chance to watch conference.

for those of you who don't know, i am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. every six months, we as an entire church have the opportunity to spend the weekend listening to messages from our church leaders, each of which has prayed earnestly to know what we might need and has prepared equally as diligently.  it is a deeply renewing time for me and for musicboy.  it inevitably comes at a time when i feel worn out and worn down, when my batteries are flashing red and i'm not sure how to continue to face all that i have to do.

the same was true this weekend.  i've written before about how i'm having trouble adjusting to the new populations i'm teaching and the new subjects that i'm tackling, how it feels like i'm walking uphill in mud most days and how that feeling doesn't exactly inspire me with confidence.  nevertheless, i keep trudging, but i have found myself easily frustrated and easily annoyed by those same situations, which only makes it worse.

so when i began to watch conference, and began to see a consistent theme focused on loving one another, it sank deep into my soul.  i began to feel the pieces of this puzzle that i'd been grappling with--how do i become a better teacher? how do i deal with these situations better? how do i balance life at home, which is wonderful, with life at work, which is hard, without letting one negatively affect the other?--start to come together. 


what does that mean?  it means, for me, that i have begun to pray to love my students.  i don't expect to feel warm and fuzzies for each one of them every single day, but what i have already noticed is that the frustration that i was feeling about their lack of participation and preparation has stopped really penetrating my heart.  that sounds like i'm callous, not loving, but i don't mean it that way. rather than reacting out of anger or frustration, i simply assess the situation and deal with it, with an attitude that's more about what they need than about how i feel. 

trying to love those around me, i know, will make me much less likely to react negatively. it will allow me to recognize the moments when i can reach out and do something for someone else. it will make me want to be better every single day.  it will change me, rather than changing the situation. 

it makes sense.  i've been trying to change everyone and everything around me, all of my students and how i approach teaching and the lessons i've been doing, without realizing that the greatest change needs to come from me.  in my public speaking classes, i talk on and on about how delivery is the way that you will capture your audience.  how could i not have realized that, being the open book that i am, the frustration and annoyance that i have felt would read on my face, making me much less likely to encourage or inspire students?

so i'm trying love.  i'm trying love in everything that i do. i'm trying to find ways to encourage and ways to care and ways to love that might not have been obvious to me before.

i know it will work, if only i can stick with it.  i know it will change my heart, if that's what i really want.  i know it will have a deeply positive effect, even if i don't realize it right away. 

love always does.

*it really is. it always is the answer.  i'm not even kidding about that.

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