By Leslie Bertucci, NOLA Catholic parenting
As a new school year begins, kids and adults alike are scrambling to master new schedules and face new challenges. Some approach this task with eager anticipation, others with frustration and perseverance.
Meanwhile, I’m just trying to convince young people that they’re made for greatness.
Quick backstory: After homeschooling our four oldest children through 12th grade, and the youngest through first grade, I felt like God was telling me it was time to put our little one in school. So, after 15 years of being out of that environment, we plunged right back in. We sent our baby off to a brand new public school with lots of hugs, a few tears and a truckload of prayers.
God is faithful, and our son’s first year of school was amazing, as was every year after that. He made wonderful friends, joined the marching band and was placed in the gifted program. But my mama heart was wanting to be more involved in his world. So, I decided to get certified as a substitute teacher and started subbing at his school.
I quickly gained a reputation as the crazy, happy lady who smiled at everyone in the hallway and told them how wonderful they were. I saw each child as a beautiful, beloved soul, created for a unique purpose.
But, most didn’t seem to see themselves this way. So, I decided to do something about that. I was determined that every day I subbed, I would communicate this truth to every student I encountered: “You were made for greatness.”
Because it’s true, they were. We all were. Pope Benedict XVI was right when he said:
“The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness!”
One way I relayed this fact to the classes I subbed for was by hanging up posters of my own design, displaying beautiful landscapes and inspirational wording, such as:
“Every life has a special purpose. Find it. Live it.”
“Every new day holds unspeakable promise.”
“Every person, like every sunrise, is unique and unrepeatable.”
“Every day is a new opportunity to do something amazing.”
I did this in the class I taught on my son’s first day of junior high. I explained to the kids that, every single day, each one of us has the chance to do something amazing. For instance, to accomplish something we thought was too hard for us or befriend a lonely student or help a fellow classmate with a difficult assignment.
Or, “I saved a kid’s life over the summer,” one eager child piped up. What?
That’s right, turns out he did. On a Boy Scout campout, one child decided to see how fast he could ride his bike down a hill. The results were catastrophic, bones poking out and everything. If not for the quick thinking of this little hero sitting in my class, that child might very well have died.
And, here I am telling kids to be nice to each other. As usual, I’m thinking too small.
God’s plans are always so much bigger and better than our own. If we allow him to have his way in our lives, if we just show up and say yes, he will lead us into truly amazing feats of faith and even heroism.
And, so, I continue to remind each child, as he walks out the door: “Be sure and do something amazing today!”
Leslie Bertucci is a native New Orleanian who attended Dominican High School and Loyola University. She is married, has five children and two grandchildren. She has been a catechist, youth minister, retreat leader, homeschool teacher, conference speaker, choir director and worship leader, and, with Johnny, founded Sanctifire Youth Group at St. Anselm in Madisonville in 2000 and also leads the NoLoudRocks Worship Band with two sons. Her family has an evangelizing spirit often ministering at prayer meetings, retreats and conferences. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the blog featuring three new posts a week at www.nolacatholicparenting.org.