I believe that most kids should be institutionalized from ages 11-14 since they so readily display Dissociative Identity Disorder (multiple personalities). Either that or they’re victims of an alien body snatching conspiracy to bring down our entire civilization one adult at a time.

Yes, I teach 7th grade Language Arts. And yes, sometimes I think I’m insane, too.

I teach because I love words—reading them and pluming their hidden depths, and weaving them into powerful patterns to create lasting impact. And I love to share my love of words and story with others.

But oftentimes, I feel like I work in a minefield and I’m just waiting for something to blow up in my face.

And I’ve been especially mindful of it this week since my church has been studying through the Beattitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) on Sunday mornings.  This week we hit vs. 5:

“Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth.”

Thanks to Minister Mike (no, we don’t really call him that but I can’t help alliterating), who has a gift for defining pivotal words in scripture, I realized that meekness is: #1 not what I thought it was; and #2 something my students test me in every single day.

When we think of meek, most of us think of a mousy librarian who wouldn’t raise their voice much less their hand to defend themselves. This modern translation couldn’t be further from the original context. Think of a wild stallion of the American Plains or an African Lion submitting themselves to a master’s will. Jesus was called the Lion of Judea for a reason. And he told us to follow his example in meekness or gentleness (Matthew 11:28-29).

At this posting, my school is 30 days out from summer vacation and most of my kids act like today’s the last day of the year. “We still have to do work? Why do we have to write so much? We have to read more again today?”

Yes, yes, and yes, I say.

I think every chair in the classroom should be checked for tacks or electrical charges daily, and hearing tests and psychological evaluations performed regularly because these are the only explanations for why students can’t stay in their seats, holler to each other from across the room, and repeatedly talk or sing aloud to themselves in the middle of a class discussion.

Then I become a stallion all right and my kids get my verbal kicks. I’m a lion and they hear me roar.

But I’m called to be meek—power willingly restrained to serve my Master’s will. It makes me wish I could see Jesus conducting a lesson with a couple dozen hormonal middle schoolers. Somehow I think he’d do a bang-up job without resorting to a sharp tongue.

Me? I’ve resorted to tattooing my wrist with a Sharpie every day to remind me who I want to be.