Friday, December 13, 2013

How we spend our Time

I believe that you define who you are by how you choose to spend your Time. It's a simple formula to identify the priorities in your life. They are the ones that consume the most hours of your day. Those hours that you have complete freedom to dictate, beyond the hours you work, the hours you sleep.

A myriad of circumstances this week have called upon me to evaluate how I spend my Time, how I define my life.

Yesterday, Cameron read me a quick-write he wrote for a warm-up in health class about how he wants to be remembered. Here is an excerpt:
I want to be remembered for giving back to the community. I want to be remembered as the guy that was not worried about himself but cared more about those who needed help. I want to be that guy that everyone knew more about his impact on the world than his own life. I want to be remembered as the guy that gave back everything he could to the world. I would rather have people remember what I did than remember my name.

It was one of those fulfilling moments when I felt like, whether as Mom or as McHenry, his Key Club Adviser, I must be spending the Time to 'do something right' with him.

Then, last night as I was driving home from dinner with Jason, I told him that I wanted to take the Time over Christmas Break to see a lot of my former Key Clubbers while they were home from college. I have been so swept up in the busy-ness of life other chances they were home that I couldn't coordinate seeing them although they tried to make the Time for me.

Ironically, right in the middle of that conversation, I received a text from one of my "formers," Jordan, that I hadn't spoken to in a while. Here is an excerpt:
Thought of you a lot today for some reason. It starts with a kid with a green sticker on his notebook and it congratulated him on donating blood for the first time... I wrapped up my first semester at CNU yesterday, with many changes at this place in the last week... Thanks for allowing my heart of a servant to grow during high school, because it's getting the final coats of paint here.

It was one of those fulfilling moments when I felt the rewards for how I chose to spend my Time, not the proverbial pats on my back, but the realization that I had an influence on someone that is so giving of his Time. A college junior that when he's out past midnight, it's because he's delivering blankets to the inner city homeless sleeping in the street.

Then tonight.

Many of the kids embrace being a Key Clubber as how they spend their Time, how they define themselves, make it easy on me. They are eager, and hard workers, and give a public image that I am proud to stand behind. On days that teaching seems so stressful, they remind me of the great many rewards.

Sometimes though, it's not so easy. I try real hard to find a niche for every single one of my kids. Some are great leaders, motivating others to get involved and be active. Some's greatest strength is rolling up their sleeves and getting the hard work done. Some are the money makers, they are the first to sell tickets for any fundraiser or to fill their banks with change to donate.

Sometimes though, it's not that easy to figure out the niche. To figure out how one fits into the greater picture of what we collectively achieve. Sometimes it's hard to remember that Key Club might provide the happiest moments of their high school years. I might provide the only happy moments of their high school years. When they think back on their teens, I may be the first face they remember as someone who gave them my Time. I might be the only person.

Tonight, I was reminded of this.

At the school division's Christmas Party, each place setting included a small hand-written post card from random students in the county. All the ones that I saw were from elementary kids, they were vague but endearing. Brief notes of gratitudes and holiday wishes to "Staff" or "School Family," nothing too specific or personal. The one at my seat read: "Dear Staff, thank you for all you have done for us to make us so happy. We appreciate what you do for us and others. We wish you a vary, vary Merry Christmas."

I'm sure there were others but I didn't see them, any written by our high schoolers or any written to specific teachers, but when the evening was over, another teacher I knew brought me one of the post cards that had adorned her table:

The card was signed, I just though it best to obscure it for the sake of this public post.

It was a timely gift. For reasons that I just cannot go into on this forum, it was just the right message. At the right time. From the right person.

And, I cried. Oh, how I cried. Then... I cried some more.

There are many nights when I have to pause and question why I get involved with this or why I help with that. Am I doing it for the right reasons? Am I able to give what is really needed, or am I just the only person willing to do it? Is this really how I want to spend my Time?

Various events this week have really caused me to pause and reflect upon those decisions once again. I am definitely not someone who is quick to say that God was trying to 'give me a sign.' Just a few weeks ago I debated a class of idealistic sophomores on the belief that 'everything happens for a reason.' (I opposed that position.)

I have to admit, tonight though, it was just a small token. But it was enough to answer the questions I had been asking myself and to show me that this is how I want to spend my Time. This is how I want to define my life.

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