Are You Rich?

One of my students asked me if I was rich today.

Rich.

UH did that hit me in the gut.

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I know she meant it as a compliment, but heck, she hit me where it hurts.

Because these kids see me twice a week and I’m in a “new” outfit every time.

They ask me how my flight to Phoenix was and compliment my new $40 manicure.

They see a young, new teacher, with “nice” clothes, who just moved out to California on her own, graduated college and visited Paris once in her life.

But when my student asked me that question, I was shocked and flattered, replying with a quick, “No!”

But in reality, the answer should really be yes.

Because I can go and spend $10 on coffee and afford to throw away a half empty cup because it was too much milk.

I can walk into Target with no intention of dropping a dime, and come out signed up for their Red Debit card.

I am rich. And I hate it. 

But. I don’t hate myself for what I have- what I have been given is more than a blessing.

I hate that my student sees me and sees a white, rich girl with all she could ever want right at her finger tips.

The white, rich girl who can drive to Chipotle and treat herself for a “hard day of work” while she is a 10 year old, 5th grade student, who goes home to take care of her three siblings, with no choice in the matter. No way to “treat herself” for all her hard work.

Because it is hard work being in her shoes. It is hard work picking herself up by her boot straps and finally sitting down to do her homework at 10 pm because she had to help her sisters with their work, make them dinner and put them to bed all before she could take her shoes off from a long day at school.

It is hard work learning English in 4th grade. Or 7th. It is hard to keep your head up during class when you couldn’t sleep because you do not remember the last time you saw your mom.

So yes, I am rich. But I wish I could whisper to her and say, “You are too.”

To answer your question, yes, this is when I say you are rich because you are a daughter/son of the King.

But what I would add to that is, “You can be too.”

I easily find myself in a place where I beat myself up for the blessings I have received. Who said I was the one to deserve this? What did I do to deserve to have two, loving parents who love Jesus with all their hearts?

But the reason I have two loving parents and a college degree is because of a choice. A choice my great-grandma made, my grandma made, my dad made- setting me up for a pretty easy way of life.

And that girl may not have all those generations holding her up, but she has a choice too.

She has a choice to see her life with endless possibilities. She has a choice to see herself as the strong and beautiful little girl that she is. She has a choice.

But the thing is, I don’t know if she knows it.

I don’t know if anyone has told her.

And it is times like this that I realize why I was called to be a teacher.

Because every single person has a choice, has a chance to be whatever the heck they want to be. And I can’t wait to tell her that.

See you soon,

Stephanie Lynn

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