My [redacted] Journey

A teacher's search for inner peace.

But For the Grace of God


July 25, 2014

Dear Readers,

I am feeling quite humbled today.  Yesterday, I briefly allowed myself to wallow in my grief.  Today, I am thanking God that I have so little troubles.

Yesterday my students began writing personal narrative essays, today I began reading them.  I do not know why I am surprised at the content of the essays, but I am.  With the exception of the short time I taught in the Middle East, I have worked at diverse, predominantly lower income schools, including two boys’ prisons.  And the personal stories I read about are the most heart wrenching stories I have ever come across.  Today was no exception.

I am not going to write specifically about my current students.  However, I will give you some idea of what I have run  across.  I have taught students whose parents have abandon them, turned them into drug dealers, and turned them out (prostitution).  I have taught students whose parents have initiated them into gangs, and I have taught students whose parents were the ones to beat them out of the gangs.

I have taught students whose parents have allowed their “friends” to have their way with them (sexually speaking), and students whose parents themselves have had their way with them.

I have taught students whose parents have been arrested, imprisoned, shot at, and shot up in front of them.  I’ve had shoeless students and I’ve had homeless students.  I’ve had them all, dear Readers.  It breaks my heart.

I have taught students who have lost siblings, mothers, fathers, and yes, even pets.   They write about it all.  Most of them have also lost their innocence.  So as I was reading my students’ essays today, I came to a realization, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

I am blessed.  I was fortunate enough to have been given a strong foundation through the guidance of my family.  I have been given the will and the strength to have survived not even half of the things I have read about in my students’ essays over the past 15 years.  Okay, so I’ve suffered a loss, a big loss.  But I can do this, I will get through this.  If some of my students can live through the things they have had to live through, well so can I.

I have taught students who have lost just about all they have to lose.  But the one thing, the one thing I can honestly say about my students, past and present, they have never lost their spirit.   A girl could learn a thing or two from that.  Peace, ~v.


11 thoughts on “But For the Grace of God

  1. I’m what some people would called spoiled and sometimes I feel I have no spirit left. I don’t know how they do it but I respect them for it!


  2. No child should EVER have to endure what those children and the others like them have. What bothers me is that for a lot of them, their life is ‘normal’ and the parents are merely recreating their own pain and upbringing. So, so very sad.


    • You are absolutely right. When a child simply shrugs his/her shoulders like some of these things are no big deal, we have a problem. When I taught in the boys’ prisons, they were shocked that I knew no one who was incarcerated. Imagine that, being in prison was normal for them. Shameful.


  3. Victoria, you are an inspiration to me. My mom died not so long ago. And I also feel the grief. Thank you for sharing this!


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