I doubted the time would come again when I would teach a full sized class of my own. However, God works in mighty ways, and this past week I found myself facing rows of neon-clad teenagers as I tried to hide my shaking hands and put on my bravest face. It is no surprise that after a couple of years being removed from American education, I have had to hit the ground running, in the usual sprinting pace that this country is known for. My transition into teaching has been an emotional rollarcoaster, to say the least, as I've struggled to think through what really counts in a teacher. Do I focus on the standards? Should I use everyday as a preaching opportunity? Is my relationship with my students most important? Can I push my students to think outside their Christian school bubble? Is it possible to even do any of these things successfully, while still trying to maintain healthy relationships outside of work? I have had many defeatist moments the past couple of weeks, where I've really thought that I just can't do it. God must have something else for me. And I've felt more homesick for South Sudan than ever before. It is easy to start comparing life in the two different places, remembering all the good about the place I've left behind.
I may not have a lot of wisdom, but I do know that God has me in this difficult place for a reason. He is teaching me that He is all I need to get by in this world! That is never more apparent than in those moments when my body feels frozen in fear and my mind races down a million different rabbit holes, all ending up in miry despair. The wonderful thing about my God is that He doesn't just give me Himself (which should be good enough); He gives me so much more! I have the encouragement of the most loving and doting husband alive, who stubbornly fixes breakfast and lunch for me each morning, as I struggle to get out of bed. John has also been by my side when setting up my new classroom, when meeting students at back to school night, and when suffering through the pains of anxiety on the car ride to work everyday. I am blessed beyond belief to have such good natured and mild-mannered students, many of whom remind me of myself when I was a teen. I'm not going to say that they are perfect, but God has encouraged me with a good first week, and the added support of staff who are more than willing to sit down and pray with me when I need it. I am excited about the books my students and I will be reading this year. I am even more excited about the conversations we will get to have about the themes and lessons in these books. My mother-in-law suggested that I start up a "blessings journal," in which I record one good thing about the teaching day. I could list well over a dozen things from my first week of classes. As I sit and reflect on all the good things God gives me, I catch a drifting sentiment of excitement and joy in the unknown class moments I have ahead.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
|an eighth grade dance photo, for perspective|