Sunday, May 31, 2015

everyone loves a good analogy

Dear friends, it's been an interesting week (or two).

The school year ended (with many conflicting emotions on my part), my summer officially began (with many conflicting emotions on my part), Steve had a birthday, and we completed a step toward adoption. With those things has come a sense of restlessness... a desire to keep moving forward and another overwhelming desire to beg for answers from the almighty.

In all of this, I came across an analogy which has given me some much needed peace and perspective. Not just in my current circumstances, but in my relationship with God in general. (initially it was much shorter than this, but I expanded it) I'm sharing it with you guys because maybe it will help you like it has helped me. Or maybe you'll think I'm insane. Whatever... here we go:

Think of your life as a house you own. Then, think of God as someone you initially hired to do some small repair work in that house, handy-man stuff. Maybe a leaky faucet or a ceiling fan installation. Then, one day you call on him for another small repair and the next thing you know, he's torn down a wall and cut the power to the kitchen. You're pissed. He never cleared these plans with you. You never even saw a blueprint! You're convinced he is out to ruin your house and everything you've worked so hard for. When you call him on this, he just says "trust me, I'm giving you something better than you've ever dreamed of" and continues building seemingly random structures on your property and, in your opinion, making a huge mess of things. Sometimes so much has changed that you fear a full-out caving in of the whole thing.

What's worse, he keeps bringing people in and out of your house. Some of them are awesome and you hate to see them go, others stick around for a while and assist God in projects, while others seem to simply be there to cause destruction and make the mess infinitely worse. 

You consider kicking him out of your house so many times. You look at the wreckage and think "I can rebuild it from here" or "I can live with this level of destruction, but I can't risk any more". You yell at God and accuse him of being reckless with your house and being untrustworthy. You rage at him for seemingly ignoring your wishes. You keep telling him "I was happy the way it was" and complain to anyone who will listen about how he is bullying you. From time to time he tries to tell you about his plans, but you're so busy being angry you don't hear him speak.

Then, one day the dust of the demolition and construction starts to settle and you can begin to see the plan moving forward. You get little clues about the amazing things in store for you and you begin to see those random structures and ripped down walls as aspects of a new, amazing house full of features you never knew you wanted. The people he brought in and out start adding decorations to the inside and the gardens that you would have never thought to look for. 

You finally begin to understand that maybe God has a better handle on things than you thought, or that the destruction and mess might have been worthwhile after all. Although things aren't finished yet and it's still more messy than you would like, you stop yelling at God so much and even start asking him how you can help every now and then. You may not like the decisions he is making sometimes, but you've started to trust that there is a reason for each ripped out wall or ugly wallpaper print.

Like I said, that analogy brought me a lot of peace. I'm still currently in the middle of the destruction, but  think I'm beginning to see some parts of the design coming together. My conversations have started to become less accusatory and more of a give and take.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The End of the Beginning

The school year is officially over. Just two days of post planning left and we are free for summer break.

My first year of teaching is finished.

I am experiencing a huge amount of emotions over the completion of this year: excitement, relief, happiness, pride, but also sadness, and a bit of loss.

Excitement, happiness, and pride that my students all passed and are being promoted to second grade.

Relief from the stress of getting my teacher plans and organizational routines together.

Sadness and loss over the fact that it's well and truly over. It's been an amazing first year full of trials, triumphs, and trying new things. I worked so hard to get here and to give myself over to the experience that I find myself a bit unsure of myself now that I'm not pushing forward so intensely. I am also finding that my 26 students completely stole my heart this year and letting them go means sending pieces of my heart with them. It's a new and bittersweet feeling.

I'll admit, there are definitely things I would change about this past year and there are certainly things I wish I had done better. Now that there aren't new lessons to plan or kids and materials to organize for the immediate future, I find myself being quite reflective over the experience.

I also find myself unable to sleep for all the thoughts of next year and improvements to be made swirling around in my mind. Although I know I performed well and met or exceeded the expectations of others, I wouldn't be acting like myself if I wasn't looking for ways to do more or be better than I was.

And it isn't coming from a place of negativity. I think, more than anything, it comes from an inability to let go of this thing I care about so much. This is what happens, I guess, when you are lucky enough to live your passion. It completely consumes you every minute of every day whether you want it to or not.

To all the teachers partying over the end of the school year: Can one of you teach me to relax? My relaxation setting seems to be malfunctioning. :)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day

I remember in the years before I met my husband and the years before having children was something we were focusing on how I loved Mother's Day. I was obviously thankful for my own mother and grandmothers, but there was a gentle hopefulness about the day. It was a day when I was encouraged to daydream about my future family. I would think about what it would be like to spend the day with the little family we had created and how it would feel to be living out the deepest desire of my heart.

Clearly those dreams from Mother's Day past are still just that, dreams.

That gentle hopefulness of Mother's Day in the past has now been replaced with a not-so-gentle ache. A churning in my gut caused by the uncertainty regarding my future motherhood. This year it was so bad that I skipped church. I simply could not handle the festivities this year.

I do have a good feeling about next year though. It's a bit painful to let that tiny bit of hope take root, but it is there.

Today Steve and I bought beds for our future foster-adopt children. It seemed fitting to buy that kind of furniture on Mother's Day. I may not have my children in my arms, but they have been living in my heart all my life. I'm finally able to buy simple things like a set of sheets for them. A pillow for them to sleep on when they finally arrive.

It was an unexpectedly soothing task.

Such a simple thing in the grand scheme of things, but it brought me peace to be able to buy something for my child on Mother's Day. It was a little reminder that, although I am walking a difficult road, one day this part of the journey will be only a memory and a new and joyful journey will have begun.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you women out there. Those with children in your home and arms, those of you with children in heaven, those of you with children too far away to hug, and those still waiting for motherhood to find you.