I conferenced with all my precalc kids yesterday about which calc class I would recommend for them next year. We consider not only their performance in precalc but also what other classes they plan to take, what they potentially want to major in, and what other commitments they have. And then I try my best to take myself out of the equation and remember I cannot recommend AB for each kid simply because I want them back.
For the most part, what the students had decided for themselves was what I planned to recommend. So that was good.
There was one young lady who was uncertain but had clearly put a lot of thought into her decision. She’s sharp as a whip yet also very meticulous and methodical. “I think it makes sense to take BC,” she told me.
Something didn’t sit quite right but I assumed it was just my selfishness in wanting her to loop with me. I could give no good intellectual comebacks to each of her points.
But I couldn’t shake the thought that I had misguided her. Last night it hit me how similar she is to a student I had last year and how AB was such a good fit for that student. I decided I needed to have one more conversation and then I would drop it.
But before class even started, my student found me.
“I wanted to talk to you about calc. I think I want to change my choice. I’ve thought about it a lot.”
“I was thinking about it last night too, and it hit me how much you’re like M–so smart and also incredibly thorough and meticulous. I think the pace of AB just suits you better. And I really think we’re supposed to be together another year.”
“I was actually talking to M last night!”
“Wait…what?” (They’re two years apart. And it’s a big school.) “About what?”
“About calculus! How crazy that when you were thinking about the two of us, we were actually together! Talking about what you were thinking about!”
“Yeah, that is definitely serendipitous…”
No, now that I think about it, that seems more like the work of the Divine.
I often wonder why I’m doing what I’m doing. There are kids dying all over the world due to lack of access to clean water, safe housing, and basic healthcare. And here I am in the buckle of the Bible Belt teaching calculus, for the love. Am I just blessing the blessed, as they say? How did I end up here? I was supposed to be a world-traveler. I was supposed to start an orphanage. I was supposed to bring relief to the dying.
And here I am–in my comfortable, American life.
My life that I love.
With the people I love.
But is there more? Was I supposed to do more? Be more?
God, did I miss it?
What is it I don’t even know.
“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”
Luke 16:10 NLT
“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together! ’”
Matthew 25:21 NLT
Be faithful where I’ve put you, I heard Him say. Be faithful in the small first, Rebecka.
And then He showed me. There’s important work in Tulsa, Oklahoma, too. And maybe–just maybe–it’s work only I can do.
Maybe there’s someone who really needs to be in my class next year (or maybe I need her or both) and He paved that way.
I know. It’s so small. It’s one, maybe two, classes of their high school career.
But teenagers need Love and Life and Salt and Light just as much as the rest of us. We all need Emmanuel.
And so here I am. Thankful that God is with us whether we’re in Central Asia or the Midwest. And that God uses us whether we chose a degree in advanced calculus or theology. Because He is here…and He’s also ahead of us. He’s moving towards us as we inch closer to His Kingdom, infinitesimal part by infinitesimal part…the tiny, shattered pieces make up the whole.
And so we’re here representing that one small sliver, yes, but we get to be part of the whole redemptive story…
As always, my steady rock, my husband, reminds me that I’m doing the best I can for our current season of life.
Faithful where we’re at. For the season we’re in.
Teacher friends, if you find yourself doubting that you’re doing important work, know that (1) you’re not alone but more importantly (2) that’s a lie from the pit of hell. And if that language makes you squirm, I’m sorry. I’m a recovering charismatic.
Do your work. Be proud of your work. Do small things with great love, as Saint Mother Teresa taught us.