There are so many mornings when I am on my way to school, possibly doing my mascara in the car or fumbling with my stack of graded papers that had slid off the passenger seat into a huge lump on the floor of my car, that I pray for God to give me strength, patience, and understanding that day. What I have come to find out, though, is that when you ask the Lord for things like strength...patience...understanding...to be slow to anger...He doesn't just hand it over to you. Rather, he gives you the opportunities to learn and acquire and build those requested traits.
These opportunities to learn how to be patient are not easy. It's not like God says, Oh, you want patience? I will give it to you, without first making you face your sin and see the situations and moments where you aren't patient, and give you the opportunity to BE patient! To practice being patient, to learn how to be patient are very hard feats. But I am really thankful that God is giving me these opportunities, to be strengthened by him and to figure out how to simply just TRUST him.
My boyfriend told me that God wasn't king of my classroom; I had been living like I was the king of my classroom, that I have the utmost control over all of it and all that goes on and I couldn't just let go of it. The slaving away into the night and finding little time for fellowship, friendship, and rest has caught up with me a few times this semester, including last night when I found myself in the ER for the 3rd time in the past year for severe chest pain, which turned out to be esophageal spasms caused by stress. Almost passing out 3 times in the waiting room and wondering if I was going to live to see the next day, hour, minute, with a very worried boyfriend and mother by my side, it was yet another opportunity. God is so gracious to us, in that when he sees that we desperately need to surrender control and allow him to be king of our lives- every aspect of it- he gives us the opportunities to do so, because we are too dang weak and stubborn to do it without him intervening. So now as I sit at home and pray that the substitute at school is handling my rowdy yet lovable group of 20 first graders, I'm given the chance to learn to let go and trust God. That he is king of that classroom, that despite me he continues to work and guard it and rule over it.
The past month or so has been really amazing for me and my kids. We seem to finally have found our groove together, and things are still not perfectly smooth but a lot smoother. I feel like joy has been restored to me that I didn't have the first two or so months of school, and I no longer sit and question my calling or abilities to be a teacher. I know that God has led me to this school, this place, this group of children, and it is by his grace that I am what I am; they are what they are; and we gotta figure it out. Slowly but surely, our reading levels have gone up and leaders have stepped up in our class finally, leading others to doing the right thing. I'm proud of them and our slow progress is still progress. We also have had a lot of fun together; I feel like we laugh and sing and hug all day long, and although there are still times of stress or frustration, God has given me the opportunities to practice self control and submission and patience, so that I don't freak out over it.
I also have to admit that I am having a heck of a lot of fun doing crafty things this year. Last year they seriously stressed me out, but, I mean, the two days before Thanksgiving break this year were like a craft-a-palooza in my room. And I had a blast. I also admit that my kids and I had a 3-4 minute long dance party to a techno Nouns song last week, and I got some robots, some moonwalking, and some really spastic movements that I'm not sure you can call dancing. :) I'm beginning to see that I don't have to be just like other teachers I've seen or observed or taught with; that I don't have to fit into some perfect mold of a teacher; that I don't have to worry and fret that someone from admin is going to walk in at any time and think I'm a failure. Because I'm not. I'm finally beginning to embrace this gift that God has given me and stop throwing it back in his face. And I also am very strict about making myself leave by 5:30 so that I can internalize that I am not just a teacher, but a roommate, a sister, a daughter, a friend...a disciple.
Two weeks left until Christmas break. Gotta go make some snowmen and handprint Santas!