Last Sunday, I took a little walk around town after church. Here in the mountains of Colorado, it may be nearly the middle of April, but we’re hesitant to actually call it spring for another month or two. There’s a chance we’ll get a foot of snow this weekend. In some places, wildflowers won’t make their appearance until July. We’re stuck in a sort of seasonal twilight; it is not as cold or snowy as winter, but the plants and animals are not ready to commit to the abundance of spring.
Which is why I was pleasantly surprised to see clusters of dandelions growing up from several cracks in the sidewalk and dotting yards here and there. Dandelions are one of my favorite flowers. They are soft, cheerful, and bright, they are still beautiful and enjoyable after their yellow fades and they turn into puffs made for children’s delight, and there is something about their stubborn, tenacious personality that makes me cheer more for them than for the landscapers who would try to banish them.
As I was admiring the dandelions, it occurred to me that we as Christians should be more like dandelions. These little yellow flowers can teach us a lot about living as children of God. How so?
- They have strong roots which make them hard to destroy.
- They can grow anywhere; they don’t need “ideal conditions” to thrive.
- They are simple and cheerful; they do not need to be flashy or popular.
- They serve many purposes and fill many needs – they nourish, heal, and encourage.
- They are resilient – attempts to destroy or discourage them only make them stronger.
- They spread seeds far and wide; they give of themselves and multiply in the face of strong winds and the changing seasons of life.
So what do you want to be? A beautiful but temperamental and fragile flower like and orchid, or will you be a dandelion?
Specifically 10 “Little Things”. The ones I spend 8 hours a day with, 5 days a week. In this current chapter of my life, I teach in an elementary school. Anyone who spends all day with any number of young people can tell you, children have a 6th sense for raising blood pressure. Can I get an “Amen” from my fellow teachers and stay-at-home moms? Only children can ask the same question 8 times, get the same answer each time, and still feel the need to ask a 9th time. They can be completely convinced that it is a reasonably good idea to put goldfish crackers in strawberry yogurt. They can make a hangnail seem like an injury on par with having your spleen removed with stone-age surgical tools. I have named knots in my back and shoulders after particularly
trying precious students. And yet, they can bring joy to my spirit and a smile to my face in so many unexpected ways. Care for some examples?
- When you’re faking your death because the classroom is so messy, and 9 kids are laughing at you, but one says, “I don’t ever want you to die; you are the nicest teacher.” I’m glad at least one of my students doesn’t want me dead.
- When a little boy chooses a princess pony out of the Friday Treasure Box instead of choosing a Nerf football, just so he can give it to his little sister.
- When someone is complaining about their schoolwork, and you hear a little voice say, “You should be happy to be at school. Education is great!” And they mean it!
- When you find the one or two 8 year-olds that you can actually discuss classic movies and literature with. More than you could with your friends in college.
- When a little someone hands you a whole bouquet of dandelions, and it is more precious to you than a thousand roses.
- When you get letters in the mail from past students and they make the same spelling mistakes that you nagged them so much about when they were in your class, but this time you’re glad they made them. It feels familiar.
- When you read a story by a 2nd grader that manages to combine aliens, fruit and God along with at least 3 instances of the word “awesome”.
- When a 2nd grader suddenly can explain the properties of multiplication…even though she can’t spell “multiplication”
- When you’re standing outside the library and you hear your whole class singing a song about the Bible, and you didn’t even suggest it to them.
- When you read Anne of Green Gables to your class, and the little red-haired, freckle-face boy in your class can’t get enough of it.
- When the boy who could barely read at the beginning of the year is now the last one in line – every time – because he can’t put his book down.
- When you get to explain that there is no “Specific” Ocean, and that “cinnamons” are not words that mean the same thing. And then you start using those words because they’re just so funny.
- When you get that one kid that everyone thinks is just too much trouble to do something really great, and you see the pride on their face.
- When you get invited to an 8 year-old’s American Girl themed birthday party, and she really does want you to come. And then you show up, together with Samantha, whom you’ve had since you were 8. And Little Miss thinks it’s the greatest thing ever.
I could go on and on. No matter how rough a day at school has been, it’s very rare that a whole day goes by without some ray of sunshine. And even if I can’t think of anything else that has gone right that day, there’s always the fact that they are going to home, sleep it off, and start over again the next day.
May your heart be glad!