The life of a teacher is demanding physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Work days resemble roller coasters in that they are packed full of highs and lows. Though they are exciting, they are definitely stressful. Thankfully, no matter what the day holds, we can choose to walk with God, communing with Him every step of the day. Indeed, that is exactly what we are called to do as Christians.
The day-to-day routine of work… well, let’s just say that it is neither mundane nor repetitive. Some days, my brain literally can’t deal with all of the deadlines, hoops that must be jumped through, lessons to be delivered, lessons to be planned, and classroom management… my brain is scrambled on a regular basis, my friends. As I’m meeting the mental (not to mention emotional, physical, and spiritual) demands of being a classroom teacher, the LAST thing on my mind is communing with my Holy God. Often, I don’t feel as though it is possible to walk and talk with my Lord throughout the day because from the time my alarm clock goes off (my daughter), to the time my head hits the pillow, someone needs me or something has to be done.
In spite of life, the Apostle Paul encouraged the church in Thessalonica to “Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).” This is God’s will for all of us in Christ Jesus, despite how rigorous the work that He has called us to has proven to be. We find our joy when God is at the forefront of our minds– allowing God to reveal all of the blessings in our days. When we pray continually, we are communing with God–inviting Him into every moment of our lives. When we learn the art of being thankful despite our circumstances, we find that God is truly near.
Rejoicing requires an incredible level of mental strength–we must retrain our minds to see the good in all people and all circumstances. As teachers, we have so much to rejoice in. Every day, we wake up with a purpose–to teach, serve, and love the students in our classrooms. We can never feel as though our lives do not matter. We are needed, wanted, and important to the kids in our classrooms. Every day, educators wake up with the ability and avenue through which to impact the generations to come. We make a difference–that is something to rejoice in. And the fact that we impact the generations to come is ALWAYS a fact.
It is way too easy to get sidetracked by the negative. Just the other day, I found myself frustrated and discouraged because one student in my class didn’t perform well on a monthly assessment. One. How quick was I to spiral downward instead of focusing on the accomplishments of the rest of the class. Negativity leads to more negativity. Once we begin to dwell on the frustrating aspects of our jobs, our minds spiral downward. We begin to view everything through the wrong lens. On the other hand, positivity takes longer to become a habit because we must literally retrain our brains to see the good, the blessings, in every moment.
When Jesus died as a propitiation for our sins, a marvelous thing happened… God tore the veil that separated man from the Holy of Holies— from the tangible presence of God. Through the blood of Jesus, Christians are able to draw near to Creator God. We are able to walk in an intimate, personal relationship with God. Unfortunately, we are quick to abandon that blessing due to the worries of our lives. A wise woman once told me, “Laura, if Satan can’t make you bad, he will make you busy.” Teachers have to be “on” every second of the day mentally, physically, and emotionally. We do not have the luxury of down time–too much to do for the little lives God has entrusted us with. So how do we commune with God while at work and still do a fabulous job teaching rigorous, differentiated, and engaging lessons (all while mediating an argument, completing attendance, and answering the phone)?
Well, I call them “breath prayers.”
Whenever I’m feeling frustrated, I say to Jesus “God, help me to see You in this circumstance.” Whenever I am overjoyed, “God, thank You!” Whenever I’m anxious, “God, give me your peace.” Whenever I’m rushing down the hallway to make one more copy before my conference is over, “Jesus, I love You. Know that I love You.” Through breath prayers, I am praying continually throughout my day. I am communing with God.
And the amazing things is that He hears us whenever we call out to Him. He blesses us with His peace, perspective, and encouragement when we need it most. Now, the most mundane tasks (cutting lamination, copying papers, etc.) are acts of worship because we choose to include God in the day to day activities. Breath prayers also help remind us that we are called to do everything for the Glory of God. Even the parts of our jobs that we have declared a royal waste of time can be acts of worship whenever I choose to engage with my God.
Give Thanks in ALL Circumstances
Ummm… guilty. No, I am not thankful when the copier jams… again. Then, I find myself reloading the paper (I feel like I’m ALWAYS reloading paper.) No, I am not thankful whenever I’m told that I am getting a new student with extreme behavior problems. (I’m ashamed of that, but it is true… I selfishly dwell on the ways in which this child could potentially make my job harder, rather than dwell on a perspective of how I can help change this child’s life.) And no, I’m not thankful whenever I feel burdened with paperwork, trainings, and the like. I’m not thankful a lot… I am certainly not thankful in ALL circumstances.
But God. God calls Christians to be thankful in ALL circumstances because He is for us, He is on His throne, and He sees the big picture. There are lessons to be learned, lives to be changed, and futures to be impacted. When we find ourselves feeling bitter or frustrated regarding a situation at work, we can ask God to let us in on His perspective. We can ask God to help us see the blessings of the present moment.
I’ve concluded that Paul wouldn’t have encouraged the church in Thessalonica to rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances if the goals were not attainable. We were never asked to walk such a path independently. We have God on our sides. He died so that He could have an intimate relationship with us–and that includes the times in which we are in the workplace and at home. Every moment is from Him; therefore, He wants to be included in all moments. He wants us to reap the benefits of partnering with Him. He wants the world to reap the benefits of us partnered with Him.