Until recently, this was the very view that greeted me when I woke up each morning for much of this past school year. With a self-inflicted eyesore in the backyard, stacks of ungraded school papers lining the baseboards like ankle-high gremlins and the mess of laundry I'd elected to not fold the night before, you might think my bedroom could better serve as the setting of an eerie psychological thriller than a place of relaxation.
|What terrors lurked amongst the collective dead?|
|Did the mysteriously expanding pile of unfolded laundry truly exist or was it|
but a figment that represented her own progressively cluttered, tormented mind?
|She had the unsettling feeling that she was being watched. She froze, her eyes|
sweeping the silent room. Had that stack of ungraded spelling tests crept a few inches closer?
Even worse, let's take this unkempt environment and add to it the fact that I've spent the last three years feeling like the nation's worst teacher. Factor in my legal certification as Subhuman until after 8:00am and you can see the serious potential my bedroom has for feeling as cheerful as a tuberculosis sanitarium when my alarm clock starts its hideous caterwauling at 4:45 each weekday morn.
So you might be surprised to find out that this place feels like a spa to me.
For the past three years, I had really been wrestling with the desire to leave teaching. And I was getting my butt kicked. Oh, this isn't just me exaggerating. Perhaps you've noticed my tendency to do so. No, I was being battered and nearly drowned by all the expectations of the job combined with my own shortcomings.
So every morning, in desperation I climbed onto the Rock to wait out the storm in safety and comfort.
Funny how God works. For years I had struggled to develop the habit of getting up early to spend time praying and reading the Bible. Suddenly, my feelings of ineptitude as a teacher really began to reinforce this habit as they emphasized my need for it.
I admit that I spent part of my prayer time unloading about my growing itch to leave education. However, I concentrated more on praising God and thanking Him for every little thing, including the stress of my job because I knew it was bringing me closer to Him. This wasn't my clever idea. I got it from a Book. First Thessolonians 5:18 says, "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." Apparently, I was supposed to be in this particular place at this particular time. Ugh. So I semi-reluctantly thanked God for everything that was stressing me out and and waited expectantly.
So as I was praying, I would look out at those awful weeds in my backyard which were green at the time but I didn't see weeds. I saw a little world full of life - plants, birds and insects. I thought about how plants and animals reproduce and grow and how everything is interdependent until I was just amazed and overwhelmed by God's unfathomable creativity and His loving provision for us. Then, looking around my little bedroom, I would see more evidence of God's provision...photos of my two kids, a ratty old quilt on the bed, a roof over our heads, a freckle-faced dog named Jenny...until I was crying tears of gratitude and joy.
It was so relaxing, yet thrilling. I felt rejuvenated every morning.
Ain't gonna lie to ya' now. 'Cause that there would be a sin. I confess that I did not go to work all happy and cheerful. Indeed, sometimes in my weakness, I would unfaithfully lean on the crutch of caffeinated soda to get me through the day. I still hated being in a job that I didn't do well but in the middle of all the turmoil and stress, I knew that God is in control of the situation and that He was up to something.
I can't claim to know the exact nature and complete scope of that something. I'm still waiting. However, I can feel my relationship with God changing. He is tending and growing little things. In the meantime, one thing that God has shown me is that while the temptation to sleep longer on work days is strong, the extra sleep is not worth giving up time enjoying Him. (full disclosure: Sometimes I fall asleep while I'm praying! Embarrassing. Sorry, God.) I am grateful that through my prayer time, in the midst of my stressful chaos, God turns my one-star room into a relaxing, rejuvenating, spa-like environment. It is my favorite time of the day.
|In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice,|
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.