It’s back-to-school season! Summer vacations have ended. Tax-free weekend has come & gone. Parents are ready for their children to leave the house, while this new mommy is begging for just a few more days at home. Although I didn’t shed any tears this morning, you can bet I was racing out the door when 4:00 arrived. I’ve never been one of those teachers that leaves on time–especially during my first few years of teaching. That all changed when I had my first child.
Change is good. I needed to set stronger boundaries between my work and my life–which is difficult when you teach. Your work is your life. The children become your children. After having my own, I still work late or at home sometimes, but those afternoon/early evening hours are fully devoted to my sweet family.
This school year began with even more change for me. I recently found out I will be working at two different schools. I would be lying if I said I haven’t had a few fits of anxiety and fear. While driving between schools, I thought, “How in the world am I going to pull this off?” Having more questions than answers and more anxiety than peace, I decided this change would be a positive experience. Period.
One of my favorite colleagues quickly encouraged me, “Just think, now you get to share your heart with even more people.” Not only do I get to work alongside more literacy teachers, but I get to impact even more children. What an opportunity! (Not to mention this news directly aligned with a word I received exactly a month ago. I was told my boundaries are expanding. My influence will reach many others. Guess I AM picking up those fencepost!)
So, how do I plan to make this a positive experience? By keeping my heart grounded in His promises. By fixing my eyes on Him and dwelling in His Word. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 is one of my favorite memory verses, and it fits perfectly with my goal/ resolution for this school year:
16. Rejoice always, 17. pray without ceasing, 18. give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
To rejoice means to be glad, or to take delight in. It is not always easy to choose joy. My husband recently shared some advice he’d given a client, and it reminded me of verse 16. Basically, he told them joy isn’t a one-time decision. Joy comes through making a lot of small choices each and every day. Father, help me to choose joy more. My new principal is a kind-hearted woman that chooses joy. In the middle of describing the school history of heartbreak to me, she said, “This year, we’re going to laugh and have fun!” My heart smiled. This IS going to be a joyful school year!
Praying without ceasing means continual communication with the Father. I amazed by how He desires to share in every part of our day–the small moments as well as the big. My 7th grade science teacher told me to listen twice as much as I talk. We’ve all heard that phrase, but it applies to our prayer-life, too. The Father is whispering His promises and showing us glimpses of Himself all throughout the day. Help me to listen to and look for you more, Lord. Wether I’m on my knees, on my feet, in my car, or in my classroom, I want my thoughts focused on Him and His word.
Being thankful in all circumstances isn’t always easy, especially when you’re in the middle of a tough season. Even in the pits, the Father calls us to this place of gratitude. We must strive for thanksgiving. To help myself keep a grateful heart, I try to name three things I’m thankful for each day. Lord, thank you for the sweet treats a coworker left on my desk, an amazing first day at the new sitter’s, and a simple and delicious dinner with my husband. Help me to see more of these blessings in my life. As Melody Beattie says, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more…” So true! I am going to try my “thankful 3” at work each day, too!
The rest of verse 18 says this is God’s will for us. He commands us to live out these three virtues. Of course we will fall short multiple times a day, but my hope is to draw closer to Jesus and his grace in the process. Won’t you join me in dwelling on these verses during your current season? Challenge yourself to walk in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 with me!
Father, help us to live out these verses each day. May we dwell on these scriptures during this new season of change and uncertainty. We want to fill our hearts with more joy, prayer, and gratitude. May we be a light for others. May they see your joy in our smiles. In your name, Amen.