Tuesday, December 18, 2012

God IS in Schools

I have been struggling with this blog in the wake of  Friday's tragedy.  I'm going to be honest and admit that I've felt stressed because I had planned to post an update on my weekend with my sister, my Christmas card photo, my Christmas house tour, and a sponsored review this week.  The fact that I would even worry about that those things might fall off schedule is just further reminder of how selfish I can be and how small my little world is.  I am ashamed that it takes something like what happened in Newtown last week to show me that it isn't all about me and my plans.  Plans change.  

I will re-adjust my schedule.  I'll back-date my Christmas card post and publish my house tour a few days late.  I can do that.  But, there are 26 families that don't have the option to just "re-adjust" today.  For those 26 families, nothing will ever be the same again.  Their plans have been changed forever.

Today, I will remember.  I will remember, and I will pray, and - in some small way -  I will look for the good in the world.

Here's what's been on my mind the last few days, where my heart is right now:

After something as horrible and devastating as what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary last week, we want to point fingers.  It is our human nature to ask the why question and find someone or something to blame.  Gun laws?  Mental health?  God's wrath?

Don't get me wrong, I'm as guilty as the next person.  I want answers too; I want to know how something like this could happen.  But, so far?  I've got nothing.  Nothing is good enough.  Nothing makes those 26 lives less precious?  Nothing makes even just one of those little lives lost OK.

With that said, here's what I know the answer is NOT.

This did not happen because we took prayer out of schools or because teachers don't read the Bible with their classes.  This did not happen because we've "systematically removed God from our schools."

Because, I am in the schools every day; and, if I know nothing else, I know this... God IS in schools.

He is in the special education teacher who used her body to shield bullets from her class.
He is in the first-grade teacher who locked her students in a closet and gave up her own life.
He is in the third-grade teacher  who gave her life shielding her students from bullets and the kindergarten teacher who read books to her students as they hid in cubbies.  (Source)

He is in the teachers, all over the world, who love their students and offer them hope and stability when no one else does.  The teachers who pray for their students by name and over their classrooms before leaving in the afternoon.

He is in the students not afraid to love the "outcast" or share scripture with a hurting friend.  The Young Life leaders who bring lunch to lost students and show up at their volleyball games.

God IS in schools.

Sure, as a public school teacher, I don't preach from my podium, lead prayers for the class, or write Bible verses on my blackboard.  I don't "share" my faith in many of the outward ways we tend to associate with having God in schools; but, I assure you, I share him.  

When I was leading Young Life years ago, one of my favorite adages was, "you might be the only Jesus someone sees today," and I try to remember that when I wake up early and walk into a sea of bleary eyed teenagers every morning.

It is a privilege really.  I'm not bound by words or promises; instead,  I get to show my students every day who Jesus is, by loving them and showing up.  By really caring.  By smiling. By believing in them.

And I see Him in them too.  Every.single.day. 

So, I will mourn.  I will remember.  I will cry for the 26 and the broken world we live in.  But I will not let evil steal my joy.  I will choose to find hope in the good.  I will look for light in the glimpses of Jesus all around us.  And, now, more than ever, I will celebrate the season and be thankful for the birth of a child in a stable all those years ago who came, ultimately, to save us from that evil.

 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:5 (ESV)


  1. This is absolutely beautiful and you are SO RIGHT. God is there. You can't keep God out of the schools.

  2. This is so true and I'm glad you shared it. It bothers me to see the people talking about how God is taken out of schools-- most of them people who haven't set foot in a school in at least 10 years themselves, many of them whom homeschool their own kids and seriously have no realistic view of what goes on in public schools. Well, I know. I'm here every day. I can assure you that God is at work here, with or without government approval. Thanks for your honesty and vulnerability. Love you!

  3. Well said Elizabeth. I agree, God is in schools because those who love him are there. Thanks for posting this.

  4. THANK YOU! I am posting this on my FB page and tweeting it. You are so spot on and this is beautifully written. Thank you E!

  5. reading this blog this morning literally gave me goosebumps. i'm sitting here eating breakfast and enjoy out two hour delay because of snow. as a new teacher my heart was broken when i heard this news and i didn't know how to really comprehend it, i don't think anyone does. reading what you wrote about God being in schools through the teachers inspires me and makes me excited to go today and make a difference. I always try to be a positive and encouraging teacher, believing in my students and giving them hope, and now i have even more of a reason to do that. i'm definitely saving this post so i ca refer back to it in the hard times, maybe when my students are driving me nuts, and remember that there is a reason i am there and i need to be the best that i can be for them. thanks for sharing. -jessica

  6. I really love this. I also had no idea you were a young life leader! My mom came to christ through YL and my sisters fiance is a full time staff on YL! Cool!

  7. Absolutely beautifully written and SO TRUE! I teach in Connecticut (about 30 mins from Newtown) in a values based god centered school. I see, feel and experience god every day with my kiddos! Thanks so much for posting this today.

  8. Love this post. There are so many Christian teachers in the public schools, and you are one. I was one before I retired. Throughout my career I did other things on a leave of absence or when I quit public education to be a Director of Christian Education. But I did spend my last few years as a public school teacher and now substitute in public schools.

    Yesterday I substituted in high school and we discussed bullies, how to stop them, and the fact that one day one of their peers might want to strike back against those bullies with guns.

    Parents have to instill values, though, and realize that although their child can pray in public schools, officially prayer is gone and that is so sad. The 10 Commandments are gone from our government buildings and the value "thou shalt not kill" is not emphasized.

    Hope you have a great Christmas, Elizabeth.


  9. Beautiful post. Thank you. God is Love, and where there are children, there is God. Prayer in school or not.

  10. so true, and so well-written, friend. As much as people try, you cannot kick God out of anywhere.

  11. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!! As a Christian and a high school teacher, just like you, I also know that God is in our schools. It frustrates me when people who don't spend each day inside our classrooms says this. He's there. He's in each and every teacher who believes in his/her students. He's in the kids that know him and trust him. God has to be there for me. I know that's the only way I make it through some days. Thank you for putting it out there for others to know!

  12. This is exactly how I feel and what I think but could't put into words on my own blog. I'm a new teacher and am struggling like so many others with how to deal with this tragedy. I pray every day that I teach for my kids to see Jesus through me even though I can't speak his name. Thank you for writing this!

  13. Beautiful post. From one high school teacher to another, thank you for sharing. :)

  14. Thanks for this Elizabeth! This is so true - God is there. I felt that same frustration when I heard people saying that God isn't in schools anymore. My dad was an elementary school teacher and he always used to say, "God lives in me and I am in the schools. They can't take that away."
    Thanks for your thoughts,

  15. Well said Elizabeth... as I was cleaning up food Piper threw on the floor today, I thought there are 20 moms in CT who would die to be able to do this today.


  16. Wonderful words. I have struggled with how to explain this to people who are not in schools everyday. I love the phrase, you might be the only Jesus they see all day.

  17. I love this so much. So true and so beautifully written. :)

  18. This is so poignant, so important, and well said. This might be my favorite post of yours. Bravo and thank you!

  19. This is beautiful. Thank you.

  20. I appreciate this very much. I, too, am a high school English teacher, and I'm very frustrated with the current discussion of God in schools, both because of it's ignorance & it's implications. Thank you.

  21. I loved this post. I also teach high school English. I guarantee God is in schools. Earlier this year a girl from a neighboring town went missing and when they found her body, my school prayed for her. Teachers email each other asking for prayers for others, sick kids, sick parents, etc. We also lost a little girl to cancer recently, the school stopped to pray for her or have a moment of silence. We are making donations in her name now. We also recognized Newtown. Everything you wrote is so true. God is not shunned in classrooms, instead, He is recognized through our actions. Thank you for posting this!

  22. I feel exactly the same way. I was upset the other day when I saw a friend post that this happened because we don't allow God in schools. I told her that he's there in the hearts of those who believe. I wish I could have said it the way you did. I'm sharing this with my friends!

  23. Elizabeth, this is so beautifully written. Everything you ever write is beautiful, but of course this one really touched me, along with all your other followers. Teacher's are instruments in schools, I too, am so proud to be a teacher, that both you and Kathryn are teachers, counselors, instruments in your classrooms. My heart breaks today for the families of all those precious children at Sandy Hook, the teacher's, the principal, the counselor, everyone there. I pray that all the families know how very much they all are loved.


Your comments are what makes this thing fun! I LOVE to hear from you and do my best to respond to everyone! THANK YOU!

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