Last night I got an email from a student I had last year asking if I could read her personal statements for the colleges she is applying to (all prestigious). I felt like her English teachers would be much more equipped to look through these, but she said she wanted my input, so I couldn’t say no.
She also mentioned that she’d like for me to know more of her story.
As I read, I understood what she meant. Her story is–in a word–heartbreaking. It is totally gut-wrenching.
But her determination to use her story to help others is inspiring, beautiful, and healing.
I had her in a class for a whole year. A WHOLE YEAR. And I didn’t know any of this.
I didn’t learn her story. I didn’t take the time to ask about her home life. I didn’t pause to ask, “What’s going on behind the smile, the perfect grades, the always-respectful demeanor?”
So many missed opportunities on my part.
And yet, this child gave me a chance to redeem myself. She sought me out–even though it should have been the other way around. She came to me, and wanted me to learn her story. She let me read incredibly vulnerable words, and then asked me to make revisions to the black and white ink on which she had poured out her heart.
I really mess up sometimes, guys. Like royally **** things up.
And still, my kids have grace for me. Still, they invite me into their lives.
Today I was reminded of the importance of pausing, of asking deeper questions. Today I was reminded that they want to tell me. Sometimes they just need me to ask.