Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fewer words - greater meaning

This past week in my class, we have been working on learning how to present our "claims", what we believe. In the process of helping students clarify what they wanted to say and cut out some of the unnecessary fluff, one of the students spoke up and said, "Oh, I get it. Less words, more meaning!" Exactly! 

I tweaked the wording of her comment and created a chart for my room that said, "Fewer words - Greater meaning." Since that time, this phrase has been rolling around in my head.

Now, those who know me might find it unusual that I would write a blog about using FEWER words. I have been known to talk a little...okay, I talk a LOT! But lately I'm finding that I am choosing my words far more carefully.

There was a movie a few years back, A Thousand Words. In this movie, the character Jack McCall, played by Eddie Murphy, finds an unusual tree in his yard after an encounter with a spiritual guru. He discovers that when he speaks, a leaf drops off of the tree. When all the leaves are gone, Jack's life will be at an Jack refuses to speak at all! Of course, his life is affected by his choice. By the end, Jack has to find a way to choose his words carefully because each word has to say as much as it possibly can. Each word must be worth spending a part of his life on. Fewer words - greater meaning.

The Bible does have a verse that talks about all this. Proverbs 10:19 says, "The more talk, the less truth; the wise measure their words." 

This could prove a problem for me. I do love to talk and make people laugh. I decided maybe I should look to the author and finisher of my faith for an example of what this might look like.

If I look to Jesus and His words that have been recorded - honestly there aren't that many! I have to believe Jesus said more than was recorded; I can't picture Him sitting around a campfire with the disciples and saying little to nothing unless it was to be recorded. I can picture Him laughing and even joking with His friends. With that in mind, I have to consider that the words that WERE recorded must have been times when He was trying to get His point across - He was measuring His words in order to teach. No one can deny that the words of Jesus had meaning.

I know that I want to live and teach like Jesus. This means that I will have to first clearly know what I believe. I will also need to be able to listen to and gauge the understanding of those around me. Jesus obviously had high ideals that He wanted His followers to reach. At the same time, He could see where their understanding was. This must have meant that at times He stopped talking and listened. Instead of focusing only on where He wanted His followers to get to, Jesus also recognized where they were...and He scaffold-ed (my teacher friends will love this term) His teaching so that they could follow. He wisely chose each word to lead His followers from where they were, to where He wanted them to be.

They're just words...or are they? Maybe like Jack in the movie, I'm realizing that my life is closer to its end than ever. Definitely I want to live my life more like Jesus. Either way, I want the words I choose to have have meaning. Fewer words - greater meaning. If we all did this, who knows where it might lead?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

It's all so Jr. High

The following is a post from a few years ago...don't know why it came to mind this weekend, but since it did, I thought I'd share it again.
I am one of the lucky few in the world. I actually get to spend at least 8 hours of every day smack dab in the middle of Jr. High. I can almost hear you gasp in amazement. I know, you are jealous. You wish YOU could spend each day knee deep in drama, hormones, pimple cream and books. It's almost like living in a green house of emotions! Nothing is ever minor. It's just one big life crisis after another. It's just so - Jr. High!
Truthfully, I don't think I've ever met anyone who would willingly go back to their life during the Jr. High years. Just the mention of the words are enough to make grown men shudder and seemingly confident women break out is a cold sweat! It's almost as if when they escaped that time period they were set free! The one thing they knew was that they NEVER wanted to go back.
I recently asked my students what were the toughest parts of being in Jr. High and the answers ranged from pressure from parents to pressure from friends. They deal with mean girls/guys and tests and tough teachers and fickle friends. They are tired and excited and bored and frightened....sometimes all in the same day. In addition, the expectations of those around them seem to, at times, overwhelm these young teenagers. I think every day must be one constant battle of learning who they are and what they can and cannot do. They feel more grown up than they are and yet at times lapse back into being just a kid. They try to wrap their minds around lessons in math, language, history, computers and science all while juggling moods that can be far more frightening than the Tower of Terror roller coaster ride. Oh, and just to make things more interesting,  they are surrounded by hundreds of others dealing with the very same things. Oh yeah, Jr. High is one wonderful/rough place to be.
So often I want to tell my students to just hang in there. Jr. High is NOT the real world. It will be over soon! Yes, they may be dealing with difficult people, even difficult teachers, but it won't last forever. Before they realize it, it will be over and they will move on. The things that seem so huge today won't even be a blip on the radar of their lives in a few years.
And then I heard it. That nudging voice of the Lord inside me saying "That's what I've been trying to tell you." I am still stunned when I think of the simplicity of those words because right then it hit's all just "Jr. High."
The things I am dealing with, which may be tough, are still really just a stage of life. They will pass far more quickly than I realize and I'll move on. My goal is heaven...that's what's really real. Everything else is just Jr. High. Once we reach heaven, we'll be able to look back and see just how Jr. High it really was. We'll see things we wished we'd known then that we know now. We'll see places where we were doing better than we thought, and we'll see things we wish we could have changed. We'll realize we were surrounded by others who were going through their own Jr. High. Mostly, we'll look back and realize - we don't want to ever go back!
Life is definitely much better now than it was in Jr. High....and that gives me hope. If my life now, even with all it's trials, is that much better than Jr. High; then how much more wonderful must heaven be?
For me, this has been such an eye opener. Almost every day, I find myself laughing and saying, "It's all just Jr. High." Graduation day is going to be something else!
1 Corinthians 13:12 (Amplified Bible)
For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God].