Thursday, December 13, 2012

My Christmas Story

The Green Chair: My Christmas Story 

The green chair sits in a far corner of our portable classroom. We are isolated from the rest of the middle school because life for these students is overwhelming. Teachers and assistants are challenged with "behavior issues", and when students feel out of control are encouraged to sit in the green chair. Educational experts define it as a "decompression zone". We are an island of misfit toys.

This September, I took a 3 day  assignment to substitute that has lasted over 3 months. Progress is slow. Improvement difficult to measure. All of the staff care deeply and I began to see students through eyes of Jesus. They became modern day equivalents of Peter, James, and John.

Imagine my surprise on a recent Friday I noticed the green chair had remained vacant the entire day! Monday was much the same.  WOW! Breakthrough! Time to rejoice!  School administration gave us permission and even promised to pay for a Pizza party. (The modern day version of killing the fatted calf)

Then the very next day, we crashed. Total blowout. Failure, regression, set back, discouragement, and extreme disappointment. Sadly I began to make plans to cancel the party. The Green Chair was once again occupied on a regular basis.

That night the Lord gently whispered to me:

Lord: Why cancel a celebration because of failure?
I argued: We are trying to teach  the importance of consequences for bad behavior.
Lord: Since when did you deserve  consequences for bad behavior?  Do you remember the Father running to embrace the prodigal son? No consequences for bad behavior there.

We celebrate Christmas  as Joy coming to the world.  The cross became the answer for our collective bad behavior. All bad behavior....past, present, and future. Truth be told, we all need green chair time. Time to reset and to remember.

So next Tuesday we are having a massive pizza celebration. Not because kids managed to stay out of the green chair. But because we celebrate their originality, creativity, and brilliance. After all, God loves all of us misfit toys.