I vividly remember my fateful first day of middle school. After attending a Christian elementary school where the average class size was five students, I could not have imagined what it would be like to transition to a class of 365.
From the minute I stepped on the bus, my ears were flooded with a flurry of curse words I had never heard, my eyes were exposed to sights I had never seen, and my mouth gaped open at how the wild animals of the seventh grade were behaving. But the one shining moment of the whole day was when I walked through the cafeteria with my lunch tray, scanning tables for a familiar face while fighting back tears, and a fellow cheerleader jumped up and waved at me to come sit with her. Suddenly my emotions changed, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
The start of a new school year always brings about a whirlwind of emotions. As Pixar has so wonderfully shown us recently, kids experience emotions in a big way. Whether it be joy over seeing friends again or fear about difficult classes, their emotions are on high alert.
And let’s not forget others who are experiencing emotions about back-to-school time: parents and teachers. Parents may feel torn between sadness of their son starting first grade, and joy in the young man he is becoming. Or teachers may feel bummed that summer break is over, while eager for the new year ahead.
But I believe there is one thing they all need to be reminded of this time of year: Jesus’ love. His love calms emotions and focuses our hearts. Love is “the greatest of these” (1 Cor. 13:13, NKJV), and is able to change situations. And because we’re suppose to “love one another” (John 13:34), I’d like to give some creative ideas about how to share Christ’s love in this back-to-school season.
Love Our Kids and Students
Paul told the Thessalonians to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thess. 5:11, NIV), and our students crave this, especially as school starts. Take a moment to handwrite a note that will build them up in the Word or remind them of what God spoke to them at summer camp. Empower them to share Jesus’ love with tools to witness to their friends, such as invite cards with your program times or a little “cheat sheet” to hang in their lockers with ways to show Jesus to others each day.
Love Their Parents
The start of a school year can be really stressful for parents, but we’re called to “[bear] with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2, NKJV). Maybe this means setting up a school supply drive at your church to help ease the financial pressure parents are experiencing. Or imagine the difference one encouraging text message could make to a parent who just dropped his or her daughter off at college!
Teachers experience life-change every August, so it’s a perfect time to show love. We’ve had great success in putting together a small (and inexpensive) gift of love for hundreds of teachers. Take some Ziploc bags, stick in a couple red pens, a mint, and a verse/prayer note, and put it in their mailboxes at school. Whether they believe in Jesus or not, they’ll feel loved.
As a new school year begins, let’s commit to showing Christ’s love to all those who are headed back to class. Regardless of their emotions, His love can shine through.