As a child, I had a violent temper that reared its ugly head any time I lost, and manifested itself in kicking basketballs into windows, throwing board game pieces at my siblings, and being sent to my room. I hated losing (and still do), and challenged my family’s ability to patiently love me through every rant, outburst, and loss.
In middle school and high school my dad and I would go to the gym before school so I could shoot and work out. I have never been a morning person, and to start some days by missing shot . . . after shot . . . after shot . . . would exasperate me into punting the basketball across the gym as a release of my frustration. My father’s response: go dig the ball out from whatever bleacher it was wedged under, run back to the basket, and give me another pass.
Despite my father’s incessant self-proclamation of being the “World’s Best Practice Rebounder”, I consider the number of times he hunted the basketball down and brought it back to me again to shoot another lousy shot, and I have to admit that he really was the best. And as we so often see in our earthly fathers a reflection of our Heavenly Father, it was in those moments that I began to understand God’s love for me defined as both long-suffering and kind.
In 1 Corinthians 13:4, Paul says love is the ability to “…suffereth long, and is kind; …” (KJV). To love someone means you develop a kind of loyalty and commitment that boils down to choice far more often than emotion. There is no way my father felt like chasing the basketball that I had kicked across the gym – and some days he expressed this truth; however, he still chose to do it because he needed me to know two truths: he loved me, and he was in it for the long haul.
Every teacher has undoubtedly recognized the choice we are asked to make daily on behalf of our students: to love them with long-suffering and kindness; to choose daily to commit ourselves to their development intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually; to hold them accountable in their work and actions; to cheer on their identity, character, and excellence. Furthermore, parents and students alike are asked to love their teachers with long-suffering and kindness; to trust their judgment; to know that every teacher chose their profession with students in mind. When teachers, students, and parents respond to each other in this way, we extend grace and reflect a partnership that must make God proud. He epitomizes a long-suffering love and kindness towards us as he daily chooses to withhold his righteous judgment towards us and honor our faith in His Son, Jesus.
So thank you, Dad, for pointing me toward God’s character. Thank you, students, for trusting me as your leader. And thank you, parents, for choosing to send your students to Evansville Christian School. I can promise you that every teacher here deeply desires for your children to know the same truths my father expressed to me many years ago: we love them, and we are in it for the long haul.
In His Love, Paige Rudolph 5th Grade Literature & Language Teacher