Grace, Karma, & My Students


Last week I blogged about my first period class laughing at me and my sock monkey hat hair. The next day I read it to them as an example of how a change in perspective can lead to a change in your entire day.

Well, knowing they’d been blogged about was more than they could handle, so they’ve asked me each day since then when I was going to write about them again. Here ya go, sweet kids.

The other morning I had another slightly rough start to my day (this is becoming a theme), and was a bit down as I headed to class after morning carline. As I round the corner to my room, I see my first period in two lines, arms in the air, whooping and cheering like cheerleaders to my starting basketball player.

I’ve never been cheered into class before. Amazing boost to my soul and reminder of one more reason I love my job so much.

But as I smiled and sat down to take roll and start the day, I silently asked the Lord, “What did I do to deserve this?” To which He replied, just as quietly, “Nothing, my child.”

And He took me back over some of the highlights ofmy stellar high school career:

Once, on a below freezing morning, a teacher in a fully lined wool pants suit asked me to remove my sweatpants from underneath my skirt because wearing them was a uniform violation.

With all the respect I could muster for the following statement, I replied, “I’ll take my pants off when you take off yours.”

It did not go well for me.

If you came to class unprepared, you received an Academic Progress Report sent home. Three of them equalled a Saturday school. I collected so many for missing assignments and forgotten folders that my dad once asked me if I realized most people only went to school five days a week. He was convinced I was running for President of Saturday School.

I nearly failed 2nd quarter of freshman English on principle because I thought Jane Eyre was the most ridiculous book I’d ever read and I refused to finish reading it.

I struggled to get any assignment turned in that was both on time and up to my ability, and often received progress reports about living up to my potential.

I got caught smoking cigars in the hot tub at Disney World on my Senior Trip.

I did absolutely nothing to deserve the precious kids who love me and let me love them. I was a middle of the road student with a rebellious streak a country mile wide.

See, that’s the thing about Karma. The world looks at our messed up world around us and KNOWS it’s wrong. The concept of Karma (what goes around comes around) makes sense to the human mind. Scripture even tells us we will reap what we sow.

But grace trumps Karma. Every day.

Grace knows my calling is to pour my life into those kids, to connect with them, to not waste my own pain and problems by using them to help them understand they don’t have to make the mistakes I’ve made. that they can serve the God of grace in their lives right now.

If there’s nothing else in my life I want them to “get,” it’s that we each have a responsibility to listen and to learn and help other make better choices themselves. Christ died to make a way for us to keep the Law that condemns. Knowing what it says is good. Doing what it says is even better, but being who God created you to be is the best of all.

So there, kiddos, I blogged about you. Love and blessings to you all! 😊

The Difference Between Grace and Karma


I appreciate what Bono, the lead singer of the rock group U2, has to say about grace: “It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God of the Universe might be looking for company, real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.” Bono explains that the idea of karma is central to all religions:

What you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics– in physical laws– every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the the very heart of the Universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “As you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of our actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff…. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope that I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

The above quote, found in Joanna Weaver’s book Lazarus Awakening, may have shot it’s way into my top five all time favorite quotes.

I teach World Cultures and Geography, and in that class we spend nearly an entire quarter studying various world religions. One thing that I stress to my students is that there are various themes that are found in ALL religions, Christianity included, because there are certain questions that all of mankind asks: “Why am I here?” “Why is there evil in the world?” “How do I make sense of this life?” “What happens when I die?” What sets Christianity apart from other religions, is that other religions stop at an answer that satisfies the intellectual understanding of man.

The above example is perfect. Karma really is a concept found within every religion because it is a fundamental principle of life, written on the hearts of all people. It is easy to understand and easy to blame for both the good and the bad that occurs in this life. It is also the natural instinct of people; you do good to me, I’ll return the favor. You do bad to me, you’ve asked me to also return the favor. Karma is fleshly man at his best and worst, but it’s flesh. The cosmic balance of the Universe would be upended if something were to happen that changed Karma. I have friends who live their lives attempting to keep the balance of Karma and often proclaim their frustration with said Universe when they feel their good outweighs their bad yet bad keeps happening. “What gives, Universe?”

What gives is that Someone did enter history and upend the cosmic balance of Karma. “Grace defies reason and logic.” Karma only “works” if we are able to do more good than bad, but if we are honest with ourselves, even attempting to keep up with our own good and bad actions is more than the average person can manage. We give too much credit to our good and not enough to our bad. We only count acts of commission, not neglectful omission. Karma is something that keeps us in control; in control of our lives, our destinies. Grace takes control from us and places it firmly on the shoulders of another. And that is a concept at which self-sufficient humanity balks.

That is why I know within the depths of my heart that Grace trumps Karma. I know because it makes no sense to me. It truly defies human logic, therefore it transcends me. And any faith worth following better be a faith deeper than I can understand. Because I know me. And if all the answers can be found within myself, then I’m in trouble. Much like Bono, I have done a lot of stupid stuff, and I for one am thankful that I can look beyond the Karmic laws of the Universe to the Graceful love of the Creator of the Universe who reached into Karma and offered Grace.