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Monthly Archives: August 2008

She was bright, young, and attractive, three qualities which, together, will make any high school student pay attention to you. Ms. Beckham taught freshman English, and in fulfillment of a prophecy she gave her students, I still remember what she pronounced about her lessons: that we would remember them and be indelibly affected by them for years to come. Big words for a high school teacher. Time has proven her right because over a decade later I credit her first for the way she taught me to read and study critically, to read with the pursuit of an author’s unwritten and implicit motives. I suppose it was my first foray into hermeneutics, into acknowledging every written word as potentially intentional, into not lazily ascribing everything to chance or disposition. It’s a fun, empowering, and admittedly exhausting way to read.

There’s a time during our church services when kids are welcomed forward to pray for their elementary-aged life needs. The prayer requests are reliably surprising, and it’s not uncommon to see fellow teachers and adults crying as they pray passionately about the things that trouble kids. Illness among family members, fighting between parents, wanting to be better students: these topics head the list. One little first-grader marched up to me once with a big smile, and when asked what he wanted to pray for, he said in a loud voice, “I want a Nintendo Wii!” If only we all were as bold and honest.

A prayer need that touches me most is the one that indicates social dysfunction, the tension of loneliness and anxiety. It breaks my heart when kids need prayer to make friends or fit in at school. Arguably, the latent need in adults to absolve some unresolved childhood memory or problem is what drives them to pursue work helping or teaching children. It’s understandable, and in many cases a great force for good, especially when a person has grown in wisdom and is able to offer godly counsel to those who just want to be happy. Isn’t that what the good life is? Being happy?

The avenues to happiness are subjective and endless, and it’s why no one can adequately determine the happiness of another. You have to know things for yourself, if a conscious, enlightened happiness is what you desire. Frankly, knowing for myself is what makes me happy. Trying to understand the written and unwritten messages of God’s Word is a life-worthy fascination and thrill. Several months ago I came to the realization that I’ve been needing time to figure things out and renew some spiritual and personal foundations. Knowing why I do what I do brings me pleasure, and with that pursuit in mind, I’ve taken August as a sabbatical from every current work and church obligation. It’s a rush being able to do all the small things I’ve put off for several months, tackle the projects I’ve wanted to work on, study the things I’ve wanted to learn, travel for a bit, spend time with Christ as I used to. I’m not sure what’s supposed to happen by the end of the month, but like any of Ms. Beckham’s good students, I want to dig deeper. God says that he can be found by those who pursue him, and I’ll be bold and honest enough to say that he is what I want. I suppose August will find me buried in something but free with myself. I think that’d make me happy.