Recently, after work I felt kind of strange walking back to my classroom. It was a very short work week due to the snow and the observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s day. The snow shrunk a four-day work week into a two day bliss. I felt really loved that God allowed my district to call for a 2-hour delay our first morning back constructing much needed “me-time” on my only no resource day of the week. There is something about a break that makes you feel refreshed and more alert to face the unknown responsibilities of the work day. As teachers, we look forward to that 45-minute block without students…to go to the bathroom (something most professionals take for granted), eat lunch, make copies, talk with a colleague or go shopping on-line. ( I have done all except for the last one, yet!)
The close of this work week was invigorating! I felt that my students came back to school with an urgency to learn and their behaviors were more of what I want to see. I owe it all to much needed rest!! What ever happened to parents imposing a bed time and sticking with it? That’s another blog. That Friday, as I dropped the last student to the office and chatted with a few colleagues I felt a little awkward. Here I am standing on the brink of wallowing in self-pity or taking it all in stride. Shayla, what are you talking about? I sensed that I was the topic of conversation. Why does that matter? It matters because it wasn’t the flattering kind. I also almost walked in on the conversation. I slowly left the room feeling unwanted and out of place. I felt like I needed a friend.
When I walked into my classroom, I saw a colleague of mine sitting at one of my student computers. I was surprised to see her! She told me she needed to use my computer because she wasn’t getting the Internet in her classroom. Instead of wondering “why my classroom?” I said under my breath silently, “Thank you Lord. A friend feels welcome to come to my classroom.” As she searched the net, I sat at my back table wondering about the conversation that was taking place downstairs. Out loud I heard myself say, “I feel like I need a friend right now.” My colleague and friend turned around and said, “I felt like I needed a friend. That’s why I came in here.” Whoa!!
If I jump back three years ago, I had just moved to a new school and I was desperate to fit in and feel welcomed. I didn’t do anything to push that envelope but be myself. It seemed like everyone had their niche or group of teaching buddies and held fast to them. I am a people-person. I love being around others…sharing life and experiences, laughing, helping one another and having a good time. I felt so awkward. One reason was because my Light was shining. No, I wasn’t born with some weird light attached to my forehead. My “inner” light was shining and most of my colleagues couldn’t relate to me, at that time. My first friend there was the custodian. Can you believe that? He was a reliable, hard-working 50-something older gentleman who befriended me and encouraged me every day. I was thankful that the Lord had placed me in a school with another believer who wasn’t ashamed of the Gospel.
Over the past two years, God was really working in my life as a believer and delivering me from fears that had tried to sabotage the gift of teaching He had given me. To say the least, these were things that led to more unsavory conversations about me and my worth as a teacher. What can I say to my defense? Nothing! God is saying it!! He has done so many miraculous things in the lives of my students and the praises and accolades from their parents are enough for me. Even in the midst of God blessing me there are still nay-sayers or watchmen waiting to see the ruins of the past resurrect themselves. I find it hurtful but I choose not to wallow in the city of self-pity where I used to be the town’s spokesperson.
How can we bring ourselves out of the pain of the past and into the hope of a bright future?
How can we trust that the people we let into our lives won’t hurt us one day?
Time and Trust.
It is amazing how time does allow us to heal. Trusting God that He will never lead us where His grace cannot keep us. It hasn’t been easy for me but I am getting better because God is helping me to grow stronger.
Back to the present. As I sat at my back table and wondered about the conversation taking place downstairs, I began to take on the resolve of Isaiah 43:19.
Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. (Isa. 43:19 KJV)
God has been speaking this verse into my spirit for several months now. God is all about shocking and surprising us in 2014. The biggest leap of coal that could be placed on your enemies head will be to see the table He is preparing before you. (Ps. 23) It really isn’t about defending yourself, even though it is important to stand up for yourself, but more so about trusting that God has promised us a sure victory in Him.
This same friend who came to my classroom has faced similar persecution. God is now causing all of her nay-sayers to stand in amazement as He is overturning every negative word that was spoken about her and to her. I feel encouraged to witness the quick turn around. I also feel encouraged to know also that she wasn’t running off at the mouth at those people. She was resting in the phrase that “time will tell”. Time allows for us to heal, gain a better perspective, and grow stronger as we hope for a change or a resolution. Sometimes it is a long time before we see the victory but it will come. Sometimes God gives us little victories that may seem minor if we are focusing on the big problem. All in all He is working it out. All in all He is working in us as we don’t fight Him but allow Him to break us to restore us.
I have been broken so many times to be restored again by God. At the beginning of this month God spoke to me in my spirit saying, “I am with you; I am for you; I am on your side; You will overcome. Turn to me (in your weakness); I will give you rest.” A weakness that I have struggled with is letting other people’s words and thoughts define who I am. That is stopping!! God’s Word defines who I am. It is not that I do not have a mind of my own or my esteem is so low I let people walk all over me. I am acutely aware of my own short-comings. Self-doubt enters when others realize them, too. Instead of trusting that God is working in me I would believe that my temporary failure is a permanent one. I am learning to walk away from that way of life and thinking. One quote from a member of my favorite band said, “It is for You I fail, until I succeed.” (Seth Bolt) I am realizing that my failures are becoming success stories. One at a time. For me, that quote means that it is not the success that leads to victory but that failing then succeeding leads to victory. I have to understand that failing doesn’t mean continuous failing. It means that there will be a time when I will succeed.
Maybe I am not just reflecting about people talking about me. Maybe I am just realizing that I am getting stronger where I was once very weak. Maybe I am finally understanding there is “triumph in time”. Now I am just learning to wait and watch it unfold.
Thank you for sharing this MOMENT with me!! I look forward to sharing more moments with you as you meander through my little snapshot of the world!