21 “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22
I got my haircut last week by a guy named Will. It was the first time he had ever cut my hair, but he showed promise when he walked in sporting his spiky purple ‘do. After the usual small talk, he asked me why I was a teacher. My first response was, “Not for the money!” He replied that he had never met a teacher who didn’t go into it for reasons more noble than money. After thinking for a moment, I told him I liked teacher because you get do-overs.
He asked if I meant that my co-workers or boss were forgiving of mistakes. I told him that I meant we forgive ourselves and strive to do better the next year. I could tell he was confused, so I tried to explain as best I could.
Each year, we work as hard as can to do our best for the kids. We love them, care for their basic needs, teach them manners, honor, respect, integrity, and all of the content the state and school district require us to teach. And every year we fail to be perfect. At the end of each year, I know there is a kid in my class with whom I should have done something different. There is always one that I failed to reach, motivate, and prepare for life.
In most businesses, failing means the loss of a client or loss of money. In education, failing is unacceptable. We cannot afford to lose the children.
However, each year we get a do-over. We get to try again. We get a new batch of kids ready for our knowledge, love, and best efforts.
As I sit in meetings this week, prepare my classroom next week, and await the arrival of my co-workers and students a couple weeks later, I will strive to remember to forgive myself. This passage from Matthew doesn’t just apply to forgiving our brothers; we must forgive ourselves. We are not perfect; only Christ is. We are created to do our best. When we mess up, we must forgive and move on.
This is a year of change and a year of hope in my school. The best part is a fresh start, a do-over.