If you have ever been shoved, you know that it can be pretty forceful, and at times, even rough. The shove can propel you with great force as you try to protect yourself from any unintended impact. I have been getting shoved around lately, not by a person, but from God. It began as a gentle nudge, but the more I ignored and resisted the nudges, the stronger they became until they turned into a full blown shove.
Why has God been shoving me around lately? Well, about 3 years ago I began thinking about going back to study on the topic of inclusion in Catholic schools. I wanted to know how we could serve all students and families better. I wanted to know if/how we could use the resources we have at St. Pat’s to teach students with many different learning styles and needs. I wanted to know if we could welcome families who had children with intellectual or cognitive differences. I wanted to know St. Pat’s could really be inclusive – where “all are welcomed.”
However, I really did not want to study again – to write papers – take tests – complete group assignments – give presentations – I love the learning but not the work. “I am getting too old for this – pick someone else,” I told God. Along the way I picked up information from some Catholic Universities who were beginning programs for inclusive education in Catholic schools – I put their brochures into a pile and occasionally would glance at them and say, “No, I should really just throw them out because I am not going to do that.”
For 2-3 years this tug of war continued between God and me – the more he bothered and nagged me about this, the deeper I dug in my heels. And, the deeper I dug in, the stronger his nudges became until they were full out shoves.
This past May, I began studying at the University of Notre Dame in their Program for Inclusive Education for Catholic Schools. I am 2 courses in and I can honestly say that I have never worked harder, never been as academically challenged as I have been for the past 3 months, never doubted if I could do something like I have in this program – full disclosure, every day this summer I thought about dropping out! BUT, I have never learned as much, never been challenged to think totally differently, never been as energized, and never felt as strong of a call as I do right now to lead in a way that prepares St. Pat’s to be a Catholic school of inclusion open to welcoming the exceptionalities of all students.
“We are called to celebrate the God-given potential of every student.”
There is much work to be done – there is still a whole lot of learning to be done – and I am sure there will still be some shoving by God – bottom line – GOD WINS!