Thursday, February 07, 2013

The Best Hearts

It's funny how things work out really.  When I first started teaching preschool last year, I was teaching everything.  I taught letters, numbers, sounds, and writing.  And Lord have mercy I had to try to teach children math.  Even the basics of moving small objects around so they can be counted makes me nervous.  I not really a numbers person.  I'm more of a metaphor girl. 

This year has been quite different in how our classrooms are set up.  The children come to the classroom I teach in to work on literacy and art.  The other pre-K classroom across the hall is where math and science are taught.  And the way it shakes out is that I get to do art.  HALLELUJAH!  I love this!  Those artistic leanings in me find natural expression as I guide little ones in the creation of boundless loveliness.

And everything has a process.

Especially when the medium is messy.  Especially when there are so many tender souls involved.  Especially when the propensity for cutting and gluing oneself is greater than what could ever happen to the canvas in front of them.

This week we made handprint hearts.  In honor of Valentine's Day.  In honor of our theme for the month: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30).  They turned out great.  But there was definitely a process involved.  (If you doubt the wisdom of this, I invite you to unleash a room-full of four year olds loose in your home with bright red paint copiously smeared on their active, little hands.)

We did this project last year, and I remembered a few things.  First, make sure all sleeves are safely rolled up past the elbow!  And second, it is easier to do one hand at a time instead of two hands at once.  Little ones have such a hard time placing their hands in just the right way.  And third, ask them to close their eyes while you place each hand exactly where it needs to go.  Otherwise they try to put their own hand where they want it, in just the way that seems right, yet it never really lands right.  But if their eyes are closed, it's easier for them to keep their fingers together, to let you ease out the thumb just enough, and to place that print in just the right place.  Then we switch hands and do it again, laying that second print in just the right place so that a perfect heart is formed.

I don't know how many times I said, "Little darlin, you're gonna have to let me do this."  And those sweet boys and girls would squint their eyes shut and try hard at trusting me to make their hand prints into something exquisite and beautiful.  The best hearts were the ones where that child just rested his or her hand in my grasp and let me lay it down where it needed to go.   At one point I looked at my co-teacher and said, "I wonder if this is how God feels?"  Little ones always think they know best.  So do we.

And everything has a process.

The scripture painted on my heart and mind this week as I ponder God's processes in my life, in my family's life is this: 
"With all wisdom and insight He has made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure that He set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in Him, things in Heaven and things on earth.  In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of Him who accomplishes all things according to His counsel and will, so that we who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:8-12).
God accomplishes everything, all things, according to His counsel and will.  So that we can live for the praise of His Glory.  And everything in God's way of doing things has a process:  Especially when the medium is messy. Especially when there are so many tender souls involved. Especially when the propensity for cutting and gluing oneself is greater than what could ever happen to the canvas in front of us.

I see sometimes what God is getting at, the broader picture He is painting with my life.  But He asks me to close my eyes and trust Him anyway.  Apparently He knows better than I do how my best efforts would put my hands in all the wrong places, and the picture would no longer be clear, and the beauty would not be His, and His Glory would not be mine to live in or live out.  I always think I know better than He does what would work and what wouldn't.  Yet after a few run-ins with the messiness of the stuff of my life, I have learned better.

The best hearts were formed when the little one's trusted me to place their hands in just the right places.  And my heart is formed best when I trust God to place me in just the right places.  I can almost hear Him whisper, "Little darlin, you're gonna have to let me do this."

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