on underprivileged kids and education

earlier today i finished reading a book called "found" by micha boyett. (loved it.)

browsing for her blog led me to another blog (emerging mama) who, in one of her recent posts, quoted max lucado in his book, "outlive your life":

"in the game of life, many of us who cross home plate do so because we were born on third base. others aren't even on a team."

i've been thinking about that truth all day, and it's weighing heavily on me.

my kids have the benefits of loving parents, good nutrition, education with (what basically amounts to) a private tutor (*pats self on back* ;)) solid routine, normal bedtimes, fresh air and exercise every single day... along with a million other little perks that, all combined, will help them trot down that little white line from third base to home plate.

 so. many. others. don't have ANY of this.

they don't have loving parents. don't have a decent breakfast (or any breakfast) before showing up to an over-crowded / under-equipped classroom with an exhausted teacher who is just trying his best; in a tough part of the city, where politics matter more than kids' future lives. it's depressing and disheartening and infuriating. i want to believe that every kid in america has a fair chance, a fighting chance to be bigger than the crappy hand they were dealt at birth. i want to think that no matter what your circumstances, you can rise above it and be bigger.

i follow an instagram account called "humansofny" and a couple days ago they quoted a fourth grade teacher from harlem who said, "Many of [the kids i teach] just don't have a culture of expectation at home, and it's hard work to lift yourself out of an underprivileged situation. I actually just finished going to a trombone recital for a former student of mine. I used to coach him in hockey on weekends. He'd practice with me from 4am-6am. Then he'd go to practice trombone from 8 to 10. He did all this just so he could get into a good high school. That's what it takes, really. Hard to do without a culture of expectation."

this kid would practice hockey from 4-6am. (side note: huge props to this great teacher who coached him at these ungodly hours!) that means getting up basically in the middle of the night. when you maybe didn't get to bed till really late. and then afterward, playing trombone for two hours, maybe fighting sleep ... all because you have a bigger goal.

that is, no joke, hard work. "it is hard work to lift yourself out of an underprivileged situation." and really, how many kids are up for that work? and not only up for that hard work, but up for fighting against all the norms and social mores and lack of expectation, that they can and will make anything of themselves? (I'm pretty sure i would not have been.) how is this in any way fair, or right?

sometimes i feel like i'm scrabbling about, getting so mad at the injustice and unfairness and if that was my kid... and i just wind up feeling helpless and frustrated (not to mention less than useful in my current situation.)

yesterday morning our pastor talked about that verse in revelation, where it says that, one day, God will make all the wrongs right. all the injustices will be fixed. all the infuriating unfairnesses of life will be made right. because God is fair and just, and although i hope that somehow i will be able to do my part to make the hard work of overcoming a raw deal in life easier for some of these children, at the end of the day, i fix my eyes on this: i don't know how God will ultimately make things right for all these children, but i believe he will.


  1. One of the things I admire most about you is your ability to live in the moment. SCC's song that says "you are changing the world one little heartbeat at a time" rings true when I think of you. The best attitude to have is that which you said, that "one day, God will make all the wrongs right. all the injustices will be fixed. all the infuriating unfairnesses of life will be made right. because God is fair and just." And, I totally get being caught up in wondering how I can do my part and if I'm not doing enough. But, as we are called to fight for justice, I think you are not losing sight of how different this looks for different people and that the beauty is in the mystery of how God is ultimately making things right.


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