I’ve been putting a lot of things together over the past couple of weeks — connecting a lot of dots — writing things down in indelible marker — trying to nail these lessons home. But, even as I type this, I know that these are lessons I am going to have to learn over and over again.
I’ve written so many sentences, paragraphs, and blog posts about my soldiering — how I’ve marched through battles, brandishing weapons, kicking butts and taking names. I’ve confessed that my years in the battlefield of my own making have wreaked havoc on my body. I’ve vowed to put down my weapons and rest in the palm of the hand of God. Yet, I gaze longingly at my fatigues that are propped up over in the corner. I long to get back in the game, to live the life of my former self.
I mean, wasn’t it great? The camaraderie with the troops — working side-by-side to tackle issues like failing students, families in crisis, and new programs for success? The daily soldiering — lesson planning, writing exams, reading essays, and teaching grammar? The little skirmishes — with students, with parents, with colleagues? The victory parades — parent/teacher conferences, faculty parties, graduation?
Yes, it was great.
So what went wrong? Why couldn’t I hang in there like some who have been marching for forty years or more? Why did I have to take my honorable discharge so early?
Perhaps because there is work for me in the reserves? Could I be as effective as a reservist as I was while on active duty? Could I use the same skill set? Could I meet with a different population this way?
I mean, let’s be honest, I’m certainly not ready to retire. I have ideas, opinions, and strategies formulating in my mind all day long. Yet, it’s obvious that I can no longer sustain active duty. A few hours of interaction with students and I am ready to put my feet up. Sometimes I sit down at 3:00pm and don’t get up again for the rest of the evening.
Last Thursday as I lie on the bed at the physical therapy office, I heard the therapist say, “Your body is kind of twisted in on itself, as though you were holding yourself together so that you could move forward.” I was silent as I thought about that for a moment. Actually, I keep thinking about that one sentence.
Perhaps the reason I couldn’t sustain forty years of teaching is because I exhausted myself in just ten years by simultaneously attempting to hold myself together while kicking butts and taking names. And don’t I feel foolish for attempting to do what has already been done? I could never hold myself together anyway. Nor did I have to. I am, after all, being held together in the palm of His hand.
Silly me. Let me get out that Sharpie.
all things have been created through him and for him.17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.