I am getting ready to end my fifth school year of teaching Seminary. I've been all around the courses of study and started over. I found out today in two ways that I will for sure be teaching again next year. It was assumed, but nothing official had been done yet. Anyway, the first was during the opening song in church today. It was, of course, "I'll go where you want me to go...I'll say what you want me to say...I'll be what you want me to be..." I think I actually heard the words "A Seminary Teacher" in the bass line at the end of that third verse. Did anyone else hear that? The second way was when I mentioned it to Eric the Bishop, he said, "Did we talk about this already? We just made the decision this week, but I still need to get you the paperwork." Seminary is not a calling, so it doesn't go through the usual channels and procedures. That's why he could just come right out and tell me. Basically, I am asked to volunteer each year.
Part of me is so relieved because I am so in my little zone when I am teaching teenagers. I just love them to pieces. Even when they're asleep.
Unfortunately, part of me is timidly suggesting from the corner of my brain in the teeniest, tiniest little whisper that maybe I'm not up to it anymore. Five years hasn't turned me from a night owl to a morning person, and frankly, I'm not sure I get enough sleep in the summer to square up the sleep debt. I find myself thinking that someone more exciting, more interesting or more fun would surely be better. I'm not witty. I am tragically unhip. I'll still be listening to the All American Rejects long after I'm supposed to be. None of them have ever heard of my favorite U2 songs. When we play games I never remember to buy treats the night before and I usually rig them so everyone wins. I cry just about every single day. I make them sing all the verses of the hymns at 5:50 am. I'm not a scripture scholar-just a scripture seeker. I still have to sing the Primary songs to know the order of the prophets and books of the Old and New Testaments. I'm terrible with the administrative stuff. I want to give everyone an A+ just because they never give up.
More worrisome for me is that it is very difficult to form relationships with kids in seminary because I have 50 minutes that has to be devoted to teaching while a fourth of them are drooling on their scriptures, then they are out the door for another day. I don't get to interact with them as happens in other settings. So, it is really hard to know if I'm reaching them. With 23 of them completely under my stewardship and nothing like a presidency to share the load, it will be nearly impossible to try and attend their activities to try and form those bonds. Plus, it's just plain lonely sometimes to have no one to bounce ideas off of or offer a little tiny bit of reassurance that one is on the right track. I think they trust me and know I love them and all, and I feel blessed that this next year 23 kids will be entrusted to me, but oh, that whisper from the corner gets my attention sometimes.
I'm not fishing for compliments here, and I know from whence all these doubts come, but they do round my shoulders a bit at times. I know the way to dispel them, but sometimes it helps just to get them out. Sort of like Ron's slugs-better out than in. I know my purpose, which is to give them the opportunity to feel the spirit confirm truth. I try hard to create an atmosphere of safety and trust where everyone is kind and attentive. We do pretty well at kind (I have ZERO behavior problems) but not so great on attentive. I think I shoot par for the course on that one though. Considering 100% of other teenagers are still asleep, the fact that I have 75% of the local mormon teenager population awake is really pretty impressive. I have occasionally wondered about the word of wisdom ramifications of coffee-flavored candy, but I've never gone that far. I have, however, shot at sleeping youth with a nerf gun. It was fun. I usually aim for the open mouth but when the head is completely back, it's hard to hit. The kids actually tell me I should do more of that, but the moment is not often right for it.
The bottom line is that the overwhelming responsibility I have been blessed with sometimes, well, overwhelms me. Just like a wave that catches you by surprise in the surf. I still love to play in the surf though, no matter how scraped up my legs get. I still get happy every morning when they start coming through my door. They always show up. I can do that.