Living a Life of Integrity

This is my first time posting here, even though I’ve officially been a “contributor” for months and months now. The main reason is just that I’m just really busy these days with my teaching program. But just this weekend, I took the time to write an extremely long entry on my own blog, that I thought would be encouraging for others, so I’m just re-posting it here for you all. Enjoy! :)

From Friday, May 14:

God is so good. At the end of such a crazy day, when I was tired and confused and only dragged my body to Bible study out of habit than anything else, He hits me with one of those knife-in-heart-cutting-out-the-sin-exactly-where-it-is sermons, you know, the ones where you are sitting in your seat, cringing at how ridiculously precisely God’s word applies to your life.
A few weeks ago, I received a new student in one of my classes. I noticed that in his notebook, he was doodling the name of a notoriously violent gang. Since then, I’ve been thinking and praying about how to address this.
Today, I went into my classroom to pick up some teaching material, and I saw him there, even though that wasn’t his class during that period. Instead of insisting that he go back to his class, I decided to just let it slide, figuring that this was a good opportunity to talk to him. Our conversation confirmed a lot of my suspicions, but there wasn’t very much I could do or say to help him at that point. All I could do was ask him to think about what he wants for his future, and which actions now would help him get there… blah blah blah. Still, I felt like he was being pretty transparent with me and well, trusted me, probably to the best that a kid in his situation could trust a random teacher.
After we talked, I went to the Dean to ask if the school had any information about why he transferred or anything else on his official record. When the Dean saw my student’s attendance record, though, he was like, “Ok, we need to talk to him right now and do an intervention.” He proceeded to check his schedule and he said, “He should be in Biology now so let’s go get him.” As you can imagine, I was just standing there in a state of semi-panic. I felt dishonest letting the Dean try to track him down when I knew exactly where he was, but I also felt like I would be betraying my student’s trust by telling the Dean that I knew exactly where he was because we just talked. Also, selfishly, I didn’t want to get myself in trouble by admitting that I had just essentially condoned a student in breaking school rules.
Sigh, that was just the beginning of the mess. I told the Dean that I would go get the student myself, thinking that this way, I could bring him down without getting him in more trouble than necessary. But when I went back to get the student, he refused to come with me!!! He was like, “No, miss, I don’t want to go. Let them come and get me.” I was flabbergasted. He kept saying things like, “They’re going to kick me out,” “I’m not going to go, I don’t care,” and “just tell them that I’m not here.” The worst part for me was hearing the anger and accusation in his voice when he said, “Miss, you went and talked to the Dean about me??”

Since he would not come with me, I had to go down to the Dean’s office again. The Dean wasn’t there, but when his secretary heard that the student was in another class, she was like, “What?? We have to radio security to go get him!!” My mind was screaming, “WHAT? Are you crazy? This is the least of our worries now!” But it was too late. She was already marching down the hall to get security. Inside I was like, “NOOOOOO it’s over. This kid will never ever talk to me or any teacher ever again.”
I was completely flustered and kicking myself for getting in this mess. I walked up and down the hallways, checking the room and then the Dean’s office, just waiting to see the situation blow up in my face. But (praise God!) the security for whatever reason did not go get him. Even though the worst was over, I was still bummed about losing my student’s trust so quickly after gaining it.
All day, I kept playing over the events of the morning in my mind, thinking about how I could have worded things differently here or not done something there to avert the drama. But tonight, while listening to the sermon, it hit me. The problem wasn’t with the circumstances, but with me. As much as I might want to appeal to my “good intentions”, I can pinpoint this whole mess back to one small breakdown in my integrity. This might sound silly, but really, what I should have done was enforced school policy and asked the student to go back to his class. I know, not very revolutionary, right? But think about it. That was really the cause of my dilemma when I stood before the Dean. I knew where the student was, and it wasn’t where he should have been. That’s when I realized that no matter what I did, I would have to break faith with someone, either the administration or the student. I tried my best to walk the line, but in the end, I was not completely honest with either. My student had every right to be mad with me. By talking to him then, I implicitly conveyed that I was okay with the fact that he was out of class. Then when I came back and said, “oh, the Dean wants to talk to you about ditching class”, how could it not seem like I set him up to get in trouble?
I am so ashamed just thinking about how I could say to my student, “No, I won’t lie to the administration for you”, when my actions had already conveyed such hypocrisy and inconsistency of character. There I was, condemning law-breaking, while breaking rules myself. I am even more disgusted thinking about how I had told the student I was a Christian, only moments later to completely disgrace the name of Christ.
Later that afternoon, I read Psalm 51, and I was struck by verse 13, “Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will return to You.” I thought, “Yes, Lord! That is exactly what I desire, for those who have rejected You, who are rebellious towards You, to repent and return!” But what precedes this verse? What are the conditions for this to happen? Is it not David’s plea to “create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me”? Is that not the only way one wretched transgressor can bring hope to another?
The sermon tonight drove this conviction home. The speaker’s 3 points of application, drawn from Daniel 6 (the story of Daniel and the lion’s den) were these:
In the midst of trying circumstances…
1) living a life of integrity gives confidence.
2) living a life of integrity gives comfort.
3) living a life of integrity gives clarity.
All day, I was unsure, troubled, and confused about all the circumstances around me. But the cause was really a lack of integrity within me. Having realized that now, and repented and enjoyed His grace, I feel so much more grounded and at peace. I am still praying for my student. I have no idea what will happen next week. I don’t know if he will trust me again, but that’s okay. My main goal is no longer for him to trust me, but for myself to simply be trustworthy.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
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One thought on “Living a Life of Integrity

  1. Great post… may God provide the opportunities to establish a bridge of trust between you and that young man once again.

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