I don’t have all the answers to gun laws and the rise of mass shootings.
I can’t solve the sin and the suffering in people’s hearts.
I can’t fix the trauma that children and teens have gone through.
But I have chosen the career of a teacher.
And that means that I have every obligation to do my part in making a difference.
You might think it won’t do anything. That it won’t change anything.
And yes, there are bigger changes that need to be made – laws perhaps to be changed – policies perhaps that need to be put into place – so many things I’m not qualified to do.
But one thing I am qualified to do is teach. To love. And to create a safe space for the children that come to me every day.
Teach them about conflict resolution and that violence doesn’t solve our problems – it only makes them worse.
Teach them to speak up and stand up for justice.
Teach them that they have so many opportunities waiting for them in their lives, no matter what they’ve gone through.
Teach them that our classroom is safe, it’s loving, and it’s a place to grow.
Together we will listen to one another. We will share our emotions and care for one another. We will reach out in kindness to one another, especially when it’s hard. We will take care of the heart as well as the intellect. We will dream dreams about the world they will help to shape when they are older.
And though I might not be able to stop them from making bad decisions, hopefully they will learn from me how to make the better decisions. Hopefully they will learn how to love others better, especially those who are different or who are struggling. Hopefully they will know how to be brave and fight for what they believe in.
I understand my limitations. I know that I don’t do this perfectly, and there are many days where I am not the best example of all that I want to be. I know that ultimately what will save them and change them is Christ alone. And I pray that for each of my students every day.
But I also understand that Christ has called me to do my part in a broken and hurting world. And that part is in being a teacher. In waking up every day and accepting the responsibility of loving, teaching, and training the next generation to be wiser and more peaceful.
It might be the smallest difference, but hopefully it will impact these young lives far beyond what I can see.
I am a public school teacher, and I pledge to make a difference.
Not with a gun of my own.
But with the love and compassion that come from God alone.