Tears

The last time my school year began in tears, I was beginning my last year at my former school. I’m hoping a big change like that is not what God has in store for me this year, but nonetheless, the year has started the same way. 

Without getting too far into the specifics of this particular situation, I want to record my thoughts at the present moment, because I’m probably going to need to reference them again and again over the course of this year. 

I was talking to my aunt while we were on vacation, and she told me about a conversation she had with my other aunt back when they were both teaching. She confessed that both of them were haunted by the idea that this was going to be the year when somebody figured out that they really weren’t any good at what they were doing. She told me that in talking to other teachers she found this feeling was quite common. Certainly, it resonated with me. I remember saying those exact words during my first year of teaching. I remember thinking the feeling would fade, and while my confidence has grown, that feeling dies hard. 

I think that’s why, then, a parent’s relentless criticism can so easily get in my head. It’s because on some level, even though I know that I am doing my best and giving 100% to my students, I fear that it’s not enough. I know that I could be doing better. And it’s true, I could. That’s the thing about teaching though, I could always be doing better. There is always going to be something else to do. There is always going to be something I decide I need to change for next year so as to improve my practice. I make mistakes. I’m human. When there are kids in front of me though, I don’t want to be human, I want to be perfect. When a parent challenges that, it cuts right to the core, and gets straight at my insecurities and so, I found myself in tears today, humbly in front of my principal. 

In reflecting this evening though, I was suddenly struck by the thought that I feel a bit like Daniel entering the lions’ den. (What a great way to feel entering the year, huh?) Being struck by this though, in and of itself, felt like God’s provision. I can’t tell you how rarely I find myself drawn to a Bible verse or passage in times of trial. Usually, in times like these I find myself aimlessly searching through the Word for anything that will speak. I hope I can say without sounding too trite, that I felt overwhelmed by God’s love as that passage came to me. I reread it shortly before writing this post, and I left with a few take-aways. I may indeed find myself in the lions’ den this year. I know that I enter this year with a parent who stands ready to accuse me regardless of what I do or don’t do. What is important, is that I remain faithful to God. That I execute my duties at work in a way that is honoring to Him, that I go above and beyond the expectations and remember that when I work, I do so for the children, and for God. More importantly however, I must remain devoted to God, I must be praying, I must be feasting in Scripture, I must be worshipping at church. More and more I want these stories imprinted on my heart so that in difficult times such as this, the Word will continue to be one of the first things that springs to mind. It might be a tough year, or it might not, either way, I hope it will be one in which I grow in my faith.

Reflections

I woke up thinking of Becky and Fran today. A general missing them turned into reliving the horrors of what April 13 must have been like for them. How they went to bed not knowing it would be the last time. How Becky (thankfully) never woke up. How Fran was faced with a choice, and chose to walk into the smoke blinded by the hope of saving her daughter. How I woke up to numerous text messages and missed calls, and how I returned that call to my mother knowing that nothing good was waiting on the other end of the line. I remembered how I went to the conference I was supposed to attend that day anyway, because I didn’t know what else to do. How I remember nothing from that day, except telling my coworker what had happened, and then sitting by the fire in the hotel reading news reports and facebook posts. It was a long morning. 

Eventually though I came to realize how foreign this feeling of the pain was for me now. How in traveling this path of grief, distance has given me a pleasant numbness so that when I think of Fran and Becky I mostly only think of the good memories. I miss them still, of course, but not in the same guttural way I did in the beginning. Time does not heal all wounds, but it does soften the blow a little. 

It was with some sadness that I came upon this realization though. I remember that first year wanting so badly to go back to that first day. Somehow knowing that I can’t change what happened, it seemed better to live in that first day, where nobody believed it, where nobody comprehended what had happened. I remember getting through that first year, the anxiety over every holiday, over every family vacation, the sadness in the knowledge that two someones were missing and would be forever. This second year has been different, and for that I am grateful. I no longer wish to go back to that day, although in a minute I would go back to the day before. I feel the pain still, but it comes in small, soft waves, the kinds that lap on your feet as the tide recedes instead of the kinds that knock you over. It’s different too because having walked this far down the road, I know that God has not abandoned me, even when times were unbelievably tough. I knew that He would not on the morning of the 13th, but there were some dark days in there when I feared that He had. In the way that only time can show, I know that truth now in a different and more real way. It’s not the way I would have chosen to learn that lesson, but in the midst of the grief, I am grateful that I have.