Going into this season of life, I expected that my inner critique would be triggered by the stress and uncertainty of starting to teach for the first time. After over 16 years of working at the same company, I’d experienced a level of familiarity and comfort that brought routine and ease into my life.
Doing something so different and is exciting! But, it’s also unsettling, disorienting, anxiety-producing, and a minefield of possible mistakes. When you’ve spent so much of your life trying to do things right it’s overwhelming to voluntarily put yourself in a situation where you’re undoubtedly going to do things wrong!
I could start writing about how a growth mindset transforms the statement above into an opportunity instead of something to dread; and it does. But, this ability of mine to reframe everything so that it sounds good and right again, doesn’t actually allow me to feel my feelings and be authentically in the hard stuff. So, I’ll resist the temptation…
I told my advisor yesterday that I’m experiencing a familiar feeling from my days in graduate school. It’s the sense that there’s always something that needs to be read or studied. Even if I’m “caught up” there’s always another book or topic waiting for a lesson plan that needs to be written soon. Teaching new curriculum is a universally overwhelming experience, I’m told. So, there’s comfort in that!
My inner critique voice tells me several unhelpful things about this constant stream of studying, but the most common is: I don’t have time to study everything I need to on this topic. Now, I know full well that no one expects me to know “everything” but my inner critique apparently doesn’t understand the basic limitations of time and human frailty.
When my mind is spinning these unhelpful and uncompassionate stories, I know the only way through is to pray, rest, and trust in God’s provision and faithfulness to me. He knows my frailty and limitations and sent an answer in his son Jesus. Coming back to dependence on Christ reframes my perspective in the most beautiful way. I’m called to model grace, forgiveness and virtue to my students as I connect with them. Allowing myself to receive grace is the best preparation for the work he’s called me to do.
“… in my smallness, I find rest, quiet, comfort. Trusting that his provision, not my striving will accomplish His will.” – Sally Clarkson