Friday, December 15, 2006

The Gift of Working with God's Children

My first year teaching was an overwhelming one for me. I was 23 years old teaching in a boarding school. My day started at 6:50 a.m. with student worship. My first class was at 7:15 and my last class ended at 5 p.m. I taught 7 English classes a day, coached the drama group, emceed the gymnastics team, and mentored the newspaper staff.

I had supervision one full week a month where I was on campus from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. during the week. I then went home to grade papers and do lesson plans until midnight. On the weekends, there was Friday night vespers, Sabbath School (I taught a class, and for a couple of years even wrote the lesson study for our students), Church, lunch, afternoon activities, evening vespers, Saturday night programs and on Sunday there were trips to the nearest mall (an hour away) or other activities. It was a challenging experience at the very least.

I remember averaging 16 hours a day, 7 days a week on school, leaving very little personal time. As a young woman, I was also trying to figure out just how God fit into my life. True, I was working at a Christian boarding school where we had a lot of religious activities, but I had very little personal time to connect with myself let alone God. My parents sent me tapes of Dr. Maxwell’s Sabbath School classes that I listened to while I was getting dressed and eating breakfast in the morning. Each home leave I would drive into the big city to a Christian book store and buy a devotional book to read the next month. I had to work at finding the time to refresh and renew my spiritual connection. It didn’t just come my way or fall into my lap.

By the time the week before Christmas vacation rolled around, I was exhausted, and almost burnt out. In year #1! But instead of bringing peace and calm, there was even more to do with Christmas concerts, Christmas programs, Christmas parties, and Christmas caroling. To top it all off, we ended the semester before Christmas rather than after. The way I saw it, I was not going to get out of that last week alive. I was sitting in faculty meeting despairing my lot, when it hit me. I didn’t have to do this all alone. In fact, the whole reason for the season that was causing me stress was the solution to my problem!

I wish I could say that I never had a stressful moment again. I wish I could say that I never teetered on the edge of burn-out again. I wish I could say that from that day on, all was right with my world. I wish, but I can’t. The truth is, it has been a struggle for me ever since to juggle all that is required of me to do my work, and live my active Christian life. But the other truth is that I’d choose to do it over and over again, because God has a greater purpose for my life than anything I could design. And that’s the gift I celebrate today. That’s the gift of working with God’s children.


Patty said...

You do an amazing job of changing lives.

Heidi said...

Thank you. I needed to read that. True, I'm not teaching, but I identified.