one of my earliest, most vivid, memories is from first grade. i dont remember who my friends were or the specifics of what i learned, but i vividly remember a very special person who spoke truth into my life at a very early age. she was a janitor (or maybe a campus monitor or teachers aide of some kind?) at my elementary school. i remember very little about her, other than the fact that she was a middle aged african american woman (i only remember this because i was at a time in my life where i desperately wished i was black. not kidding.) who smiled alot. i was five years old, and younger than many of my peers. i remember a shirt she wore that had comic book writing all over it. while she was overseeing the kids on the playground, i walked over to her and told her that i liked her shirt. she laughed and asked why. i told her that i thought it was funny. she laughed again and asked how i knew it was funny, because no one had read it to me. i explained to her that i liked (LOVED, more than anything) reading, and i already knew how to read. from that day on she called me "little miss i can read everything i see."
each day after that she would greet me in the morning with my nickname and would bring something for me to read out loud to her. i looked forward to seeing her everyday.
one day, she and i were standing out by the busses and the kids with special needs arrived. i had a friend who was in a wheelchair (who probably also had some mental disabilities, but i didnt notice that at the time). i remember interacting with my friend, and after she rolled away i vividly remember the janitor lady looking me in the eyes and saying, "Honey, looks like you've got a gift. You will be a fabulous special ed teacher someday."
i firmly believe that a seed was planted in my heart that day, twenty years ago.
i have met countless "janitor ladies" in my life. the girl that used to manage the rubios down the street who treated every single customer with such kindness that it was apparent that the light of christ shined through her, my 6th grade bus driver who played worship music and told me about god and how much he loved me, my mother in law who cleans houses for the elderly, all people who have embraced their profession and chosen to use it to glorify god.
anytime i meet a new person and they tell me what they do for a living, i always ask the same question: DO YOU LOVE IT? the answers are shocking. ive met multimillionaire CEOs who say that they hate what they do, and girls who work the night shift for the drive thru at jack in the box who say that they love their job and wouldnt trade it for anything. people are clearly capable of loving almost anything. as i look at the upcoming school year and the apprehension i have about teaching at a new school to a new population of kids, i want to choose to have the attitude of love. i want to wake up every morning and decide to love what i do, the people that god has placed in front of me, the trials that will grow me, and the time ive been given to do exactly what god is calling me to this year. because next year, he could be calling me to scrub toilets or meet with the leaders of the united nations or make french fries, and the only thing that will matter at the end of my life is what i did with the time he gave me.