Breathe

Too much time and energy

Spent fretting over things

Far beyond my grasp

Tension…all it brings

Why such a battle

Between control and trust?

Learn to embrace the latter

Learn to ignore the first

There is a bigger picture

One I hope to see

If only I will let go

Allow myself to breathe

A Little While

“…What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14

How do I balance living in the moment with wisely planning for the future? If thinking only of today, will the future take care of itself? My heart says, “I know I’m not guaranteed another day.” My actions do not always match.

This is my tenth year as a public-school teacher. I’ve been in my current building for nine years, my longest stint in any job. Equal to the number of years I was a stay-at-home-mom. Cue feelings of restlessness.

Next week is spring break, followed by the final nine weeks. A flurried push to end the year strong is filled with activities. The toughest part of the year.

I am tired. Thoughts of, “How many more years can I do this?” begin to play over and over in my head. A desire for change creeps in, negatively affecting my mood. This describes my mindset for the past couple of weeks.

Suddenly, in the middle of the tiredness, a fleeting thought. Quickly dismissed. Did not write it down, afraid to say it out loud. But this thought would not leave me alone.

What if I continued teaching for ten more years?

I could look back and say, “Wow! I taught elementary school for twenty years!” An accomplishment I would be proud of. Imagine how many students would cross my path. But it sounds like such a long time…

Trust me, these ideas reflect the complete opposite of my recent list of wants:

  • Spend more time playing the piano
  • Search out new accompanying opportunities
  • Teach piano lessons again

At least, I think those are the things I want to do. Truthfully, at this moment I don’t know what I want to do. And that is ok. Maybe “not knowing” is a safe place to remain for now.

Whether I teach one more year or ten, I must give it my best. Allow some new life to be breathed into my teaching. Somehow James 4:14, “…a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes,” makes that feel possible. It may not be logical, but such is faith.

Feels like I have walked in one big circle. Now back at the beginning, I need to listen, reflect, and rest. And trust that is enough.

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’-yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

Right Where We Left Off

I love the way certain friendships seem to transcend time and space. Life’s circumstances may take us far away from each other. Yet when our paths cross again, we pick up right where we left off. When reunited, it feels like nothing has changed and no time has passed.

Today I realized how much I take this phenomenon for granted. I always thought of it as a natural occurrence. Something you simply experience over time, not something you are taught. Maybe that comes from growing up in a loving home, having friends from an early age.

But what happens when a child grows up in the opposite?

Rachel and I took a little road trip to visit our sweet friend, Marie. Our short visit was well worth the almost three-hour drive. We had Christmas presents to deliver and it had been several months since we’d seen her. The year prior to her foster home placement, Rachel and I saw her almost weekly, so we were very excited about this visit! (See earlier post for more of Marie’s story.) https://pianogirlthoughts.wordpress.com/2018/08/13/face-to-face-with-child-abuse-personal-reflections-of-a-teacher/

Marie had requested Braum’s for our meeting place. You can’t go wrong with ice cream! We arrived, all smiles and ready for hugs. Her initial reaction was interesting. Lots of eye rolls and shoulder shrugs in response to our questions and attempts at conversation.

Her foster mom reassured us she had been really excited to see us. We trusted this was true, she was just not quite ready to show it. With patience and persistence (about 10-15 minutes worth) Marie was smiling, holding Rachel’s hand and laying her head on my shoulder. Finally, we were right where we left off.

On the drive home I was thinking about our visit, trying not to cry. Those goodbye hugs do it every time. Not to mention my daughter saying things like, “You’re doing really good, Mom.” 😉

As Rachel and I talked about the day, it suddenly hit me. Of course Marie would have reacted that way. This child has never had a secure home, was abused for years, tossed from one facility to another. And on top of all that, she has developmental disabilities. Before she was finally placed in this amazing foster home, the uncertainty of her future was difficult for her to understand.

We often had the following conversation:

Marie: What if I go someplace else?
Me: What are we?
Marie: My friends.
Me: Yes. And wherever you go, we will see you.
Marie: Ok.

Then she would smile. And that explanation would suffice for maybe a week…or a day. Now that she is in a loving home, our conversations have changed. She laughs as she tells me about her mom, dad, siblings, and extended family when we talk on the phone. She enjoys going to school and is making new friends. She is happy.

Marie knows we love her, but we cannot expect her to understand this idea of “picking up where you left off” just yet. She will need to experience it many times. Hopefully, time will continue to heal. And maybe one day she will be able to trust that we are true friends. Friends who pick up right where they left off, no matter the miles apart or the time gone by.

We Need Each Other

As Thanksgiving weekend 2018 comes to an end, I’m reminded of this truth. It may sound obvious, but for some reason can be difficult to admit. We often think the true test of success is independence. Hearing phrases like-“Be your own person!” “Do it your way!” “No one can stand in your way!”-push us toward a conquer the world attitude.

Maybe there are bits of merit/truth in those statements but they can’t represent our end goal. If that’s the case, the result will most likely be loneliness and isolation. In some ways, it’s actually harder to admit how much we need others than to be independent. It requires a level of openness that we tend to avoid.

A relative recently said to me, “You have no idea how much I need you guys.” Wow! Simultaneously simple yet powerful.  My first thought was, “We need you too!”  So why didn’t I automatically respond that way?

This admission made me think about my own life. There’s no doubt I need my friends and family. I need them to share in times of celebration as well as times of sorrow. They help give meaning and purpose to my life. And letting them know is important.

Expressing these sentiments gives those around us the opportunity to show love and support, to feel needed. If we trust others enough to admit how much we need their presence in our lives, our journey will be so much richer. Getting through difficult times will become a joint effort. Instead of feeling like we’re stranded on a deserted island, we will realize that we are not alone.

The truth is, we have no idea how much we need each other until faced with life’s difficulties. And those come when we least expect them. When they do, we can’t be afraid to say, “I need you.” Although it won’t take away the weight, it has the power to provide comfort by allowing someone else to share the burden.

No matter the circumstance, we need each other.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

”Remember, no man is a failure who has friends. ” Clarence-It’s a Wonderful Life

Happy Thanksgiving!