Use Language to Take You to Good Places

It had to happen. Our school is busting at the seams, and I’m just a part-time teacher who more easily can be inconvenienced for a few hours of my day. So it’s back to the tiny room, in which I’ve taught for four of my six years. This room is the size of a nursing home room, because it used to be a nursing home room, and about 16 teenagers and I will squish into the space next year. I’ve received pitying glances and solicitous questions from my fellow teachers, and these demand a response.

The tricky thing about a response is that it can either be an emotional heave from the gut or it can be planned and purposeful.

So Jesus and I have talked, and I’m in agreement that cheerful submission to authority (and my superintendent’s wise use of school space) and gratitude should be the final destination.

In my imagination I go to Google Maps and type in “submission and gratitude”. This is where I am going. Click on directions.

Language is what gets me there.

“How do you feel about your new room?” a fellow teacher asked me this week.

“It doesn’t matter how I feel. This is what needs to happen overall for the sake of our school.” These are words that acknowledge the needs of the school are bigger than my own personal feelings. These are words I chose to say. Planned to say.

In September my students will walk into that tiny space. Before they can heave a visceral response to how small it is, I’m going to show a slide show of my Kampala, Uganda trip, where I visited a private Christian school. That school looked like horse stalls. The rooms had bench seating, dirt floors, no technology, no electricity, and only a teacher, a few books, and a chalkboard. Remembering that school visit helps me to see my own situation from a better perspective. I teach in a rich environment.

My first lesson for the first day of school in the fall is going to be about language, but not Spanish like the students signed up for.

We’re going to learn the language of gratitude.

My students are going to look at the lights above us and all of the supplies that line one wall. We’re going to feel the chair backs and how comfortable it is to be able to lean back instead of sitting on a bench. We’re going to look at the clean carpet and the projector screen connected to a computer.

And we’re going to speak gratitude. We’re going to bow our heads and recognize the gift of God for how crazy rich we are, even in this limited space. We’re going to say thank you, thank you, thank you for how generous he has been with us.

Response to unpleasant life circumstances is always a choice, and I’m the first to admit that I often choose poor, even destructive language. (I was tempted to whine about losing my big classroom.) But I’m working on it. In fact, I’m thankful for having to change classrooms just for the opportunity it is giving me to grow inside and to teach my students how to do the same. They might forget a lot of the Spanish verbs and nouns I teach them, but maybe they won’t forget the language of gratitude. Wouldn’t that be something?

You have unpleasantness in your life right now. No doubt. How are you talking about it? And are your words taking you where Jesus wants you to go?


  1. Cindy Merritt says:

    Ah, Christy, you hit the nail on the head yet again. Thank you for sharing your life so openly on this blog. Our words MATTER and they stem from our attitude. Thanks for reminding me to think sensitively before I speak.

  2. Thank you for this reminder, Christy. I have been where you are as an educator. I pray that your students will remember the lesson on gratitude and be thankful for your influence on them. I am still learning that as I choose my words wisely, I have a positive lasting (even eternal) impact on those in my sphere of influence–even my peers.

  3. Christy, I feel your pain. I’m the secretary/bookkeeper at our church. My desk is currently in the back corner of the sanctuary. We are building a new church and our building sold last year. An eye doctor bought the building be we are renting the sanctuary, kitchen and 2 rooms. It is not an ideal situation. We have to walk through the eye doctors waiting room to go to the bathroom. There are times I have to remind myself that this is only temporary and hopefully by the end of this year I will have an office. You do what you have to do. (We had a lot of rain in central PA last year which held up the project. )

    1. Ugh. That sounds miserable! But an opportunity to respond well and hopefully have an influence in that way.

  4. Cheryl Cassin says:

    So well said, Christy. There are always ‘worst’ situations to be in.
    I can’t help but think of our Lord in that packed house, and there were a group of guys who wanted their friend healed, so put him down into the crowd through the roof. That day ALL heard the Power of the Lord Jesus Christ. You keep doing what you do so well…..not only teaching the students that are entrusted to you, but also in sharing your heart with so many of us world-wide. Blessings to you!

    1. That’s the best thought EVER! The things Jesus did in cramped spaces. Love it!

  5. Penny Eaves says:

    I love the message of Gratitude…I am also working on my “thankful” reaction to circumstances. I can’t change the circumstances, but I can change my reactions. I have a disease with no cure, so I am trying to choose gratitude for the things I CAN do and not complain or focus on the things I CANNOT do. As a former teacher who understands your situation pretty well, thanks for the reminder. How blessed your students will be this fall when they enter your “special place” that God has prepared for you.

    1. So hard to constantly choose good language when you have a disease. May the Lord help you to glorify him as you continue your hard journey. Huge hug to you, friend!

  6. Connie Stoll says:

    Thank you for this! So true in every area of our lives and I needed to hear it today.

  7. I’ve been trying to change my language about motherhood. So many times you hear about how tiring it is, how you just want alone time, etc. I’ve felt convicted and have been trying to survive the gift of my two young boys, not just not complaining (which I’m terrible at), but also celebrating the season God has me in.

    1. You are so right! There’s a lot of negative talk that swirls around motherhood. If you’ll choose to speak differently, I think you’ll find your heart will follow. (By the way, have you read Parenting, by Paul David Tripp? I highly recommend it.)

      1. Nicole vH says:

        I haven’t, but I just added it to my wish list. Thanks for the recommendation!

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