Barriers and Distortions
Posted in Loneliness/Relationships
Scripture: “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” – Isaiah 59:2
2020-2021. A school year like no other. Teachers need to connect, but that was harder to do that year. Plexiglass and masks put literal barriers between us all. We had stickers on the benches in the cafeteria to remind kids not to get too close. Only half the kids could go to recess at a time. We had to re-think everything, but somehow, we figured it out and got it done.
I made a bulletin board with photos of my students without masks, so I would know what my children looked like. I didn’t think to include photos of the teachers.
We were adjusting to our new normal, adapting and moving through the year. In October, one of my shy little girls hung back at the end of class. She asked me to take off my mask. I must have looked confused, so she said it again, “Will you take your mask off? I want to see your face. I want to see what you really look like.” We were six feet apart, so I slid my mask down and smiled at that dear, sweet child. No mask. No plexiglass. Nothing between us. That was all she needed. She nodded and ran on to lunch.
For nine very long months, we did what we had to do to have face-to-face instruction. In order to make the class sizes smaller, we taught five classes instead of four. We housed half the kids in study hall, so the others could have PE. Assemblies and class meetings went virtual, so we had kids in our room almost all day. Despite the changes and challenges, we actually had a wonderful year. We were together.
Another teacher summed up the year perfectly: distorted. He described the way the plexiglass often distorted the view of the students. He joked about constantly asking a child to move to the left or to the right because of a reflection that blocked his view or because it looked like the child had three faces. Gauging students’ reactions is always tricky but almost impossible when their faces are behind masks. The plexiglass kept us safe, but it was often like teaching in a fun house hall of mirrors. That’s no fun at all.
As I thought about that teacher’s description of this most unusual year, I also thought about barriers and distortions in my spiritual life.
What keeps me from seeing the face of Jesus? What barriers do I let come between us? What about my relationships with others? Do people look at me and see the love of Jesus shining through?
Like my shy little student, we all long to see the face of Jesus. We are made to connect with him.
Teachers and students aren’t the only ones who describe that year as very, very strange. We all use words like “isolated” and “lonely.” Covid kept us from friends and family, but nothing has to keep us from seeing the face of God. Just like my student, all we have to do is hang back and talk with God. All we have to do is tell him we want to see his face. He will take away our loneliness. He will take away our fears. He will give us everything we need. All we have to do is ask. Our job is to make sure there are no barriers in the way.
Prayer: Dear Lord, it has been a strange year for everyone. We are thankful for the masks and plexiglass that kept us safe, but please help us to be mindful of symbolic barriers that we put up that might affect our relationship with you. Help us to always be able to clearly see you. We don’t want anything to get in the way of that. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Submitted by Tammy Davis