I just finished reading the papers for my HUM 103 course that I taught this semester. The questions that were posed to them were: what, at this point, is your sense of your narrative AND what are your fundamental assumptions about life. I was given the opportunity to share a piece of my narrative in large group before they wrote their papers--having read their papers now, I would have told a different story.
I don't know who said it, but "your calling is where your greatest joy meets the world's deepest hurt." I wrote that as a comment on many of my students' papers. There were many great joys and many deep hurts expressed. Most of all, it makes me question my own wisdom as I comment on the papers and try and lead them in the way of God's Wisdom. Have (or will) I led them down the wrong path? Were my words comforting and encouraging, or mean and disheartening? Will my students take my heartfelt writing to their own hearts, as I've taken each of their stories into mine?
Most of all, these papers force me to pray. My greatest joy is seeing them becoming independent thinkers and leaders in God's world. I can see that to some of them, I have given them reason to trust me with their deep hurts. My calling is to be there for them. In other cultures and other times, teachers stayed with their students (and vice versa) for many years. They grew together and the close intimate relationship that they fostered was able to blossom (or close up tight, as the case may be). With just a semester, that chance seems so fleeting. Can my teaching even be effective if I cannot be with them longer, helping them grow and learn and love and teach others? Hence I pray. It is a bittersweet thing.