We would all do well to focus more on the accommodations than the expectations
By Sheri Wohlfert
Teachers have an extra sense, the “know your audience” sense. You come to know their faces and expressions and sounds. You try to figure out how they will deal with disappointment, correction and success.
Throughout the course of a day I get to see over 80 students, and they each come individually wrapped and packaged — all with their own little secret ingredient! It’s fascinating and frustrating and delightful all at the same time. I often shake my head and marvel at how very different each and every one of my middle lovelies is. I marvel at God’s creativity as it walks, skips, slinks, or thunders through my classroom door.
It doesn’t take long to realize some need more time, more patience, more firmness, or more love than others. Finding the right equation takes prayer and observation and lots of listening. I will be the very first person to admit I often get it wrong; I often misjudge a student’s needs or intent. God has shown me after many years of teaching that the words “I was wrong; please forgive me” are powerful to a child … or a grownup … or an elderly person! As I think about my middle lovelies and many of the other lovelies in the building, I can’t help but notice they create such a beautiful collection of God’s best work and each one of them is a treasure in his eyes. It’s my eyes that sometimes need an adjustment. I can get overwhelmed when I see how many people are misunderstood, misjudged, and misinterpreted. I just want each child to be understood and loved and enjoy being at school!
The Young Disciples group at our school has the opportunity to participate in a program with some students who have disabilities and unique needs organized by Special Olympics. As we listened to a lovely speaker teach us about these young kids and the struggles and challenges they face everyday, it left me feeling a little guilty. Guilty that my life seems so easy, guilty that I take so many blessings for granted. I was looking at pictures of the beautiful children we will be working with, and I just wanted to scoop them all up and make their life perfect. It was all churning around in my heart and all of a sudden I came across this quote from a woman I met last spring who has spent her entire life blind, mostly paralyzed and suffering from a host of other ailments. She was speaking about God’s enormous love and genius plan for us. She left us with a quote that came to my heart at the perfect moment. She said this, “I believe there is no such thing as a special-needs person. We all have needs, human needs, and some of us just need some accommodations in order to have our human needs met.”
And my God will meet all your needs … (Philippians 4:19)
I read it a few times until I found my peace. It made me think of things with a different perspective! It also made me realize how true it is for each of us. It is about those most basic needs: to feel loved, to feel accepted, to feel needed, to feel safe. Those are things I can give easily but I wonder how often I don’t recognize someone else’s need for them or I’m too busy to offer to meet them. Each of those needs were perfectly designed by God and he’s waiting and willing to provide for them as only he can.
When I really think about it, I often need some accommodations in order for him to meet my needs. I need him to be patient with me when I try to do it all myself. I need him to be understanding when I forget to show gratitude. I need him to make accommodations for my narrow thinking and impatient attitude. I suppose we would all do well to focus more on the accommodations than the expectations; putting things in that order might make a big difference. I realize after reading that sweet woman’s words, I’m certainly glad the Father looks at me with accommodation and not expectation cause he’d sure be disappointed a lot! Father, thank you for all your accommodations, please help me offer them to others.
A Seed To Plant: Lord, please help me see those who need accommodations today and allow me to see their human needs and their great value as your child.
Blessings on your day!
Sheri Wohlfert is a Catholic wife, mom, speaker, and teacher who writes from Michigan. She uses her sense of humor and her deep faith to help others discover the joy of being a child of God. Sheri also writes at JoyfulWords.org.