Inspiration, Encouragement & Instructions
". . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
The last couple weeks have been long and grueling. So much so that I nearly called and quit my job. I have never quit anything in my life (Well, except that time I made the cheerleading squad, and then realized how much more comfortable my basketball jersey was...and proceeded to beg my way back on the basketball team a couple weeks into the season!). Really, I consider myself a pretty tough cookie, but the older I get the more I realize I just don't want to waste energy stressing about things that are beyond my control. I simply don't have the time or human GB space to do so. Thus, I was left with (at least in my opinion) two choices: 1) quit or 2) preserver but with the mindset that I was not going to let the issues that were facing me bother me--if you know me, you know this is nearly an impossible task for me.
To be quite honest, I didn't get to make the decision completely based on my thoughts and reflections, if I quit I would no longer have a classroom. The major issue with this was that I wouldn't have a place to work through all that is required of us in our SMU classes (namely, the Action Research and ROL bit--you know, that little ditty?) and I would be leaving my students hanging--and believe me, they were not the issue. So really, I was left with one choice--keep going! I wasn't really all that happy about this, and proceeded to complain to anyone who would listen. Really, that is how I process, some people call it complaining, but I really think it was processing:) (Wow, I need to keep that in mind with my students, don't I?)
Here is what I discovered during my complaining-processing:
We are so meant to live in community with other people who love us and genuinely listen to our frustrations--especially those ones who are not educators and are probably thinking--"Wow, what a nut, she is just way to passionate about why and how she teaches what she teaches."
Why we need community in times of, what I am going to call, "opposition" (Okay, so a little dramatic, but that is kind of what I felt like I was facing this week.):
1) As I poured out my emotions and explanations of my experience to a group of women I meet with on a monthly basis, words and thoughts came out of my mouth that I didn't even know were in my head and heart. Talking has its way of getting me to be honest with myself...because I feel I have to be honest with my audience (crazy how I feel more compelled to be honest with others than myself?).
2) When we call others into our lives to help us work through opposition we are made stronger by the connection we have just made with those people. My struggle is now not my own, but I have shared the burden. Those people I open up to know where I am and what I am struggling with and they can be my strength through encouragement and prayer. I am still just as weak as when I started processing my opposition, but I have the strength found in others to help me move forward.
3) In community we can find wisdom. The most precious nugget I received from sharing my struggle and frustration with my group was this statement from an older-wiser women: Opposition sometimes means we are in the exact place we are meant to be! What? That is not what I was thinking!! I was thinking the exact opposite. Really, who thinks like that? But her explanation made so much sense to me that I could not deny that what she ways saying was meant for me and my situation. (Not mention, as I stated earlier, I did't really have the option to quit. So having a perspective like she suggested was going to be necessary to get through with a positive attitude.)
So, how does this apply to how I teach and how I help (or don't help) my students to process and work through challenges and struggles in their lives? I think it says, I need to give them time to complain-process. Really, that big project that they are dragging their feet on, is it because they just need some time to get the frustration out there, get some feedback and move forward? Or colleagues, does this mean after I let them complain-process I offer some nugget of wisdom so they know they are not alone in the struggle they face? Or find them a few days later and ask them how it is going, giving them more time to process or for me to offer encouragement.
Times of opposition are tough, no doubt about it. But when we feel we are working through them alone, the choice to quit seems like the best one. However, when we come together to share in our struggles it is possible not only to find the courage to persevere but to find an entirely new perspective on why we should persevere--one we likely would have never come to on our own.
Her family and friends know her as, Jaci. She is the wife of a pastor, a mom of four, writing and communications education instructor, a visionary and an avid runner. As a firm believer in the power and effectiveness of the body of Christ united together to live out the Great Commission, she holds fast to this verse, "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). Of equal importance to her are these words, "...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).
Posts in the Run for Your Life, series: