Dealing with people is tough.
As a schoolteacher, students know (or love trying to find) the button to push you over the edge. Sometimes it is easier (and I admit sometimes fun), to play the enforcer role with students, to act angry or disappointed, rather than show a genuine concern for their welfare or really try and understand the reason behind the behaviour patterns.
Often I pray to be able to see people how God would see them, treat people how Jesus would treat them, and ask the Holy Spirit to allow me the wisdom and discernment to deal with people- yet often I come away feeling frustrated, unloved, unappreciated and confused. When things don't pan out the way I have tried to manipulate, it weighs heavily upon my shoulders. I can become introspective and downcast.
Some friends were shocked when I stated that I felt love to be burdensome at times. I feel there are times when I can't give more than I have given. I can't put myself out there any more for any one.
They (whoever "they" are) will win if I don't put up a wall around myself and be determined not to let anyone in to my thoughts and feelings. I can put this mask on. I can act the way a father, husband or teacher should and fool the world in the process. I can save myself from being seen to be naked and sew some fig leaves together and no one, including God, will ever find me.
Despite these feelings, I love what I do. I love my family and have a great sense of relief and joy when I am around them. I love my job and the chance to mix and deal with people. The people I surround myself with, those that I love, those that I choose to love and support, expose who I really am.
They are changing me into the person God has called me to be.
Even though I do feel that this love and care for my family and students is burdensome, I am happy to carry this because I know that this is where God has placed me. This is my time, my chance and the will of God for me. This is the path God has set before me to walk and it's this very fact that motivates me, urges me to continue loving and continue caring.
After all, didn't our Saviour carry the weight of the cross? Am I now starting to understand what God achieved at Easter and it's purpose?
I can't help it but embrace the burden that loving others brings. I can't help it but strive to love others who have been rejected. I can't help it but love those who feel pushed aside or condemned by Christians and the church. I can't help it but love "the least of these". I can't help but give people a second, third, seventy-third chance.
God knows how many chances He has given me.
Russell Modlin teaches Physical Education at a Christian School on the Sunshine Coast. He is married to Belinda and they have three children.
Russell Modlin's archive of previous article can be found at www.pressserviceinternational.org/russell-modlin.html