Monday, November 21, 2011

A Letter to the Class of 2012

To the class of 2012 (with some explanations and asides thrown in for others):

There must be a positive correlation between the number of hours I spend teaching and my desire to sit on comfortable furniture.

7th period typically finds me on a couch in the Senior lounge. Not having you in class this year, it's a great opportunity to catch up and talk with whoever happens to be in the lounge for study hall. Don't mistake me--I often get a lot accomplished, whether that is grading or responding to emails, and I try my best not to distract you so that you can accomplish things too. However, some days, there are conversations that must trump both my work and yours.

Today was such a day. At approximately 3:00, we started talking about the 10 Commandments, which was related to what some of you were studying in Bible class. We talked about the purpose of the 10 Commandments and from there, embarked into deep waters, discussing the sovereignty of God, the reason why Israel was chosen and how that "chosen-ness" has been expanded through Christ, the debate between predestination and free will, the balance between God's judgment and God's mercy, the nature of sin, the scope and power of general revelation, eschatology, love vs. lust, the true nature of love, and likely some other questions that I'm now forgetting. We managed to talk substantially about each of these things because this discussion lasted until nearly 5 pm.

When we started talking, there were only a few of us in the lounge. By the end, there were roughly 10 of us. I just want to tell you how much I appreciate and enjoy these discussions, and the fact that you listen so carefully to my opinion is an honor that I do not deserve, but will cherish all the same.

I was saddened last year when I found out that choosing to take on World History 9 would mean dropping Bible 12 (and therefore, not teaching your class). I made the right choice, but it was not the easy choice--over the trials and unprecedented challenges of the last school year, I bonded with your class in a way that I may never bond with another class again in my entire career. To my current and future classes, please do not take umbrage: I sincerely hope I don't bond in the same way with another class, because that would mean enduring another major natural disaster and death of a fellow student together.

I got along with your class to begin with, but factoring in the impact of several devastating traumas in a quick succession like that, we developed a camaraderie that can only be borne out of shared grief. Though I realize the comparison is limited, I think of it as being like the bond that soldiers share even after they return from war. Together, they confronted death and worked through feelings of terror, shock and loss. To endure such things together requires developing a heightened level of empathy and providing a unique kind of support, love and encouragement. What we went through last year was nowhere as extreme as battle, but we still forged that kind of relationship as a classroom. That probably won't happen again, nor do I want it to. Nor, I expect, do you.

Recognizing the rarity (and painful creation) of what we developed, I deeply value my relationship with you, the class of 2012, and these opportunities to talk about life mean so much to me. I remember where you were in August last year--still sophomores in so many ways, and though you have always been a bright and studious class, your perspective of the world was still so very narrow.

Today, I spoke with a group of wise individuals who asked brilliantly deep and piercing questions about human nature and the nature of God. I spoke with a group that was patient, empathetic, willing to listen and willing to think. College may yet seem far away (after all, there's much to do over the next 6 months), but take it from one who has worked with you and watched you grow over these past years: you are so much closer to college than you are to your sophomore year, and even your junior year.

CAJ's mission is to equip students to impact the world for Christ. You may snicker and laugh because, yes, it is CAJ-speak, and you've heard it a million times before. However, I am here to tell you that it's clearly no joke because you are nearly ready to impact the world for Christ and that is obvious to anyone who looks. You may have doubts and questions that you have yet to wrestle with, but you're asking the right questions and you are seeking answers in the most thoughtful and responsible way. I have faith that you'll change the world, and I couldn't be more honored to have been a part of your journey.

Love in Christ,
Mr. Gibson

P.S. I am looking forward to many more profound conversations in the lounge yet this year!

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