What I’ve learned this winter (“winter” being a relative term)

March 3, 2017

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I’m participating this week in a blog post link-up with Emily Freeman about seasonal learning. Whatever “winter” is supposed to mean in this hemisphere, here’s my short list.

  1. “Heaven is a wonderful place . . .

. . . filled with glory and grace . . . “

Any of you out there who grew up with 80’s Church camp may be singing along with my right now :-) The lyrics to this slightly annoying but catchy tune have been running through my head for a few days now. I know the truth of the concept, and have for decades now. But the enthusiasm is new, thanks to a beautiful moment in my ladies’ Bible study this week. We were studying the book of Romans, and focusing on 8: 22-23. “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.” A few women began to talk about what that actually would look like: the bodily redemption that was to come in heaven. As they did so, the idea of actually being able to do all the activities I love in this life, with none of the frustrations, just hit me in a way that it had not before. “Thank you!” I blurted out as they talked. I continued, explained that I had suddenly had a beautiful lifting of the spirit at the realization that I didn’t have to just trudge gloomily through my days, as I generally feel I am doing. It has been a season of Eeyore-ish-ness for me, with my daily activities simply feeling like a list of chores and obligations. But suddenly I realized that, my nature being one of goal-oriented motivation, I can handle any sort of hardship if I can see the end in sight. And in this case, what a stunning end!

The version I was actually reading was French, in which the word for “groaning” translates literally as “sighing.” I am a sigh-er, vocalizing my annoyance and frustration more often than I wish. So if I consider these frequent sighs, on any given day, as a reminder of a glory that is to come, I feel as if I might be able to step a bit more lightly, and smile a bit more brightly. When the ladies left and my husband came out from his office hiding place, I was still on a bit of a high. So much so that I spontaneously serenaded him with full-on, belted out serenades (Hanson Brothers, anyone?).

2. I’m not a very good teacher.

There was a time in my life when work came easily and naturally to me—when I felt confident about my career and proud of my accomplishments. This is not that time. Full time classroom teaching has stretched me beyond my comfort level and stripped me of the illusion that I know what I’m doing. I have learned that one classroom can have me teary-eyed with joy while the next can provoke tears of frustration and, at times, even panic. I am grateful for the lesson in humility that this has been . . . but I am growing weary of the challenges and beginning to suspect it is time to settle back into work that is a bit more natural for my introverted and intuitive (INFJ, if you’re a Myers Briggs person) sensitivities.

3. I’m a pretty good student.

I never thought I would do seminary. I was, in fact, originally headed towards a Doctorate in Education. But that program did not offer a scholarship; this one does. So I’ve ended up discovering a somewhat surprising side of me, in that I really enjoy being a student, and learning, again. I guess I knew that to a certain extent [I like to say that I became a librarian so that I could have a job of learning everything about everything] But the actual experience of enjoying my studies—and of craving time to be able to do it—is a bit of a surprise considering what I thought I knew about my student personality [thinking I was goal-oriented about it, as opposed to just enjoying the study itself]. In this case, I have no professional aspiration for this MDiv . . . but I’m enjoying the process,

4. I love my students when I’m dancing with them.

At the end of International Day festivities today, several of the high schoolers taught a few of their respective dance moves. As I followed along with them, and watched their rhythmic beauty, my smile grew to a ridiculous grandeur. I thought of the happy moments spent with them in such times—like when I have done dances with them during Girls’ Fitness class a few weeks each year. It was a blessedly needed reminder of the beauty of humanity as a whole, and of each of these students in her unique giftedness. After a morning of frustration with my abilities in the classroom, this vantage-point shift was life giving.

5. I love my students when I’m playing nurse.

Because the school does not currently have a nurse, I have ended up acting as one a couple times, seeing students needing something as I passed. Today I was freed up from normal schedules due to the afternoon festivities, and so was able to sit with an elementary student while she was on the breathing machine for an asthma attack. I decided to start telling her stories, to distract her from the fact that she was alone while her classmates were out having fun. At the end of the 20-minute treatment, she took her mask off and smiled at me. “Can I have more stories on Monday?” she asked? I was simultaneously saddened (at the knowledge that next week would be normal classroom teaching for me) and gladdened (at the exquisite certainty that I had been in the right place at the right time, if only for today).

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