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Questioning God


Sounds prideful? Outlandish? Rude? At times it really is.

When I am most angry at my circumstances is when it becomes a question of pride.  When I put my own feelings on a pedestal and my questions become more of a demand.  When I am so frustrated I’m throwing a fit, this is when questioning God becomes a problem.

It also becomes a problem when my insecurity speaks guilt into my soul.  Pride is a problem, but insecurity is like a different form of pride, or is it the same? Pride says I am more important than God, insecurity says I am too un-important for God.  Pride says I am more than God, insecurity says God is not enough for me.

When I am in a state of pride I say that my questions are more important than God Himself.  When I am in an insecure state I say God’s grace is not sufficient for my questioning.

But sometimes I get to be right in the sweet center of these two extremes. 

I am neither demanding answers nor denying the existence of my questions, but instead seeing a need for resolution.  Right now I am in this sweet center, so I want to take advantage by writing down my end goal before I swing away.

For months now questions have been creeping into my mind.  Questions that have been scare and intimidate me. They all focus around one entity: God.  Who is He, how can I know? How does this determine how I make choices? These questions started out just as empty words with a question mark at the end, but slowly became like a common belief.  As an example: how can I really know Jesus is God?  Yes the bible says so, but why should I trust the bible? Wait, does the bible really say so, or is this just information I’ve heard that I’m just accepting as truth?

I would try to shake them off, blinking really hard as if I could open my eyes and the scary monster would magically disappear.  But they stayed, throughout the day, the evening, the week, and the months leading me to today.

So now I embrace the questions (or I try to, maybe Jesus won’t send me to hell for asking them after all…)  But this brings me to another problem: I am not an expert in anything to do with religion or faith.  I have no educational background in these matters, I am a teacher with relatively few connections to the church, and no connections to experts in the church.  I am a tired, young wife and educator.  I’m still trying to survive this school year with relatively few hours in a day.  I’m still trying to figure out who I am, and what I want to focus my time on (the classroom, family, community, questioning?)

I say all of this in my attempt to count the cost.

Not that I can count perfectly prior to this journey.  But first and foremost, it will take time.  I have prayed for revelations (don’t hate, I’m tired and a revelation would take a lot less time), but God does not seem to be leaning towards that route.  I have read the bible and been confused in the process feeling alone in my confusion.  Once I tried YouTube only to be disappointed.

Now I am going with a new approach.  I have started to reach out to people who may have resources or the connections that I lack.

This brings me to the next cost, humility.  Like I said, I swing between insecurity and pride, so being in a state where I can ask my question simply for an answer is difficult.  By asking questions I open myself up to criticism (put on that helmet! Protect  yourself from the flaming arrows of the satan!).  Not only for asking the questions but also for how I ask them.  Already I have been corrected in my approach, and though at first frustrated, I realized that it was a great correction and has reshaped my approach.  But how many more times will my question itself be criticized, and am I up for this challenge?  Can my ego handle it?

I can’t count the costs  of the journey fully when I am only at the start, but I can at least attempt to, and I pray that this will be exactly what I call it, a journey.  As I step away from the bubble that I have been in my whole life, the bubble of a Christian God with republican policies, of a manGod who I hold at arm’s length, I trust that God is and will be bigger than this bubble, that His grace will be sufficient, and that He will lead me to answers.

I will be asking the following questions one at a time, in the following order:

  1. Is there a God?
  2. Which God is the God? Is there only one?
  3. Why is the bible viewed as accurate? As a Holy and True source?
    1. In specific Paul’s writing.
    2. How should one approach reading the bible?
  4. Why is Jesus special? What makes Him God? Why is He the only way?
  5. How does this affect how people make choices?  How can one be considered a follower or Christ or a Christian?
  6. Where are there freedoms/liberties in Christ, where are there absolutes?
    1. In specific, what does the bible really say about homosexuality and marriage?

If at any point I arrive to a negative answer, for example, I tackle question number one and arrive at the conclusion that there is no God, then I will stop my search for answers, as the remaining questions stem from the previous questions.

I need to also state that I am obviously biased in my search.  Not necessarily for Christianity, but of the Jewish God.   There is just something about his fierce devotion to his people that makes me love Him.  In this process I hope to grow to know Him better, and if Jesus really is, his Son as well.  May God be gracious, my husband supportive, and my heart mind and soul persistent.


 

I wrote this several weeks ago and have already begun the process of seeking answers. I am posting this now because after many many frustrating months I have finally reached a point of peace in my questions, no longer feeling angry or guilty for having them.

My husband supported this effort best while reading about the next steps I have taken:

“I don’t want to rob you of this journey, but know that I have asked these same questions before, and that I have found answers, I know you will too.  I’m here to talk when you want to.”

I hope in some way to encourage you as I am encouraged while Questioning God.

Read the rest of this entry »

Since I met Tim at the wonderfully fashionable tacky Christmas sweater party in 2008 we have just clicked.

Image

And marriage hasn’t phased us terribly yet.  We’ve definitely had some nasty fights, and there are days where we get so frustrated with this person we live with that we can’t fathom another day, let alone a lifetime of being with each other.

But most days we are just having a great time with the person we love: watching TV, walking our dogs, grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, you name it, we will have a blast being together.

But what happens when all of a sudden two people have dramatically different visions for their lives?

I never considered this as a potential in marriage, I always assumed God would move both of our hearts in the same direction at the same time… always.

But apparently this can happen and it did.  After we found out that we would not be going to Malaysia, we were both really bummed out.  Instead of sulking (for too long) we decided to seek God on the matter, and what we found were two beautiful paths, that did not align at ALL.

As Tim prayed he became more convinced that this opportunity had been purposeful, and that we should be seeking other opportunities like it.  I always use the phrase if Tim could have packed up and moved us two weeks ago we would be gone to describe his enthusiasm for living internationally.  He was confident, steady, and determined.

I prayed as well, but instead of receiving this same message it became abundantly clear to my heart that God was calling us to live more intentionally in our community here in Houston.  I have at times felt Houston is not our forever city, but our city for now.  I prayed about this from the perspective of a teacher wanting to know if she should be looking to sign another contract, and received a very firm answer that we should plan to stay another academic year.  I was confident, steady, and determined.  And scared… but save that for another day.

So Tim was ready to pack us up and ship out, and I was ready to dig roots deeper here.  Hmmm.

So many nights we would get frustrated with each other both saying “I don’t feel like you are honoring the call that is on my heart” and both being right.

When I wanted to talk about what we could do here to settle in Tim wanted to talk about applications for positions across seas.  When I wanted to invest time in friendships, Tim wanted to invest connecting internationally.

Oh crap.

Compromise.  How do we compromise?

His heart:

Tim and I have decided to visit some friends in Kurdistan this summer and also take some time to visit Jerusalem.  On our trip to Asia, we will also be stopping in London and Istanbul.  Tim has been planning like crazy for weeks now and I have been doing my best to stay focused during our itinerary meetings and keep up with his enthusiasm.

I have no idea how we will react to traveling.  We are both so excited, but we could go and decide another country is indeed where we need to be, or we could go and decide that this country is where we need to be.  Either way there are so many questions we will then want to ask.

Her heart:

And when we are not running around new cities and airports? We will be focused on being present here where we are.  Being more intentional about time with others and service (hopefully starting in July when we return).

So many things are still undetermined.  We know that we will be in Houston this next year, but doing what? After that, then what? We don’t have a five year plan, or even a 5 month plan, but in this we feel most content.

Some may say we are being unwise, but we are learning to trust our Savior daily, a difficult lesson indeed.  For now we do our best to honor each other, and above this, the one who calls our hearts to live fully and wonderfully, individually and together.

Today,  my husband took our dogs out to the bathroom to take care of business. Twas like most other potty breaks, beginning with Gracie whining at the door, the battle to put her leash on, the trip down the stairs hoping not to run into any other dogs in the narrow hallways, the quest for the perfect poopy patch of grass, and then the clean up.

However, unlike most other potty breaks, during the clean up time, someone driving by decided to take it upon themselves to yell at my husband between the big dump and his walk to the bag station a few feet away.  As this unidentified person drove past they yelled at my husband to “pick that expletive up!”

My husband shared this with me in his ever calm voice while on his way to pick me up while I was walking out the door ready to leave work for the day.  I thought about getting mad, and then just decided that this best represented my day, life, and people, so instead I laughed because after a day like today, laughter is what I needed.

Today has sucked.

For reasons I’m not going to share.  The only important thing to know is that it totally bombed and by God’s good grace I walked away laughing and loving what I do.

After being let go from my job last year I have been fueled by the insecurities of what I did wrong and what might go wrong.  I have been determined to show the world that I can do my job, that I can do it well, and that letting me go was a mistake that no other boss would want to make.

Today I have finally had to face the foolishness and emptiness in this motive as I learned one of the crappiest life lessons EVER:

Sometimes you can work your expletive off.
You can do everything by the book.
You can honor those in charge.
You can even be acknowledge as excelling.
You can do this with integrity.
You can give literally everything you have to do the job right

but one person is going to drive by, see a brief snapshot, make an assumption, and you come out looking like:

the lazy one
the rebellious one
the rude one

I was so angry. So angry today as I watched everything I had tried to build come crumbling down. By the book I knew I still had parents to contact about grades, but quite frankly I wanted the book to go to hell.  I wanted to go home, curl up in a ball, maybe cry, maybe just groan as I fell asleep, dreading the next day of work.

However, by God’s good grace I began my phone calls.

And I had one beautiful, wonderful, hilarious, student pretend to be his Dad when I asked to speak to his parent. Oh my gosh I almost started laughing while still on the phone! I was asking this student “are you sure this is the parent or guardian of . . .” trying to hold in the urge to burst out laughing.  It got even funnier when I called him on his obvious lie, made him hand the phone to his parent, only to end up talking with his younger sister. His sister was not as determined to keep the act up and quickly caved, admitting she was indeed not a grown adult responsible for this student.

I laughed and I laughed while talking with my precious wonderful hilarious student, reminding him to study for his final tomorrow and telling him what he needed to be aiming to make on his exam.  I hung up smiling, loving this student, with the faces of so many others flashing before me.  My heart grew warmer and warmer despite the heaviness of a truly sucky day.

And that is when I finally, finally, gave up on trying to please everyone at this school, maybe in this world.  These other people, they’re just people driving by, making assumptions based on their limited views and personal experiences, and they’re all different and inconsistent, and I can’t keep working and living to please them, because I will never be at peace, and I will never be fulfilled.  Maybe one day they will say great job, but the next they’ll be yelling from their car for me to “pick that expletive up!”

I am here for the students, for these wonderful, beautiful, hilarious, precious students.  For these growing adults with the hearts of children.  My heart beats for them, my service is to them, everything else is just expletive.

And finally, most importantly, I throw off these desires for the ok from others, seeing how God has compelled me to places where I face everything else I try to worship.  I see He brings me to a place where my soul says “all I need is You.”

I see in this place that I truly don’t care where I am, what I do or who I am with, so long as God is there and that HE is for me.

I am thankful that He is challenging me, breaking me, enticing me to come closer into His presence.  I am glad that he lets me see that life is not always fair, that things and people will not always make sense, and that sometimes, yes, you will do everything right and this world is going to yell at you to pick your expletive up. I am glad. So glad, because I can refocus on my home, refocus on my maker, my Father, and I can say: Your will be done.

Your will be done.  Wherever I go, whoever I’m with, whatever I do, your will be done.  I don’t care if I’m homeless, I don’t care if I’m in Houston, Malaysia, the moon, I don’t care if I do or don’t have money, I don’t care if I’m teaching, advocating, parenting, I don’t care, so long as You are with me and that You are for me.  Because if You are for me, everything else and everyone else can drive by all they want, who, who can be against me.

Bring on the rain, the war, the pain, the sorrow, drench me in the sufferings of this world, You are my God.

You hung on a piece of wood, bleeding before those who cursed you.

You gave up heaven to be born in a manger with livestock to welcome you to this world.

You took on flesh and death and said “forgive them.”

You made the way for a gentile named Hailey.

If you are for me, who, WHO can be against me?

I love You and happy early birthday.

It was late, the sun had gone down, the apartment was a disaster, and it was time to start thinking about bed time (teachers have to get up early).

Our typical routine of dinner, a show, and then bed had been interrupted.  A typical night completely derailed  all because of four simple words: “tell me the truth.”

Now we sat, staring at each other, crying.

It was late, the sun had gone down, and for the first time I felt how truly young and dumb I really was.  It was one of those “God, we’re only kids how the hell are we supposed to figure out marriage” moments.  He cried, then I cried, we cried, then I cried some more.

Marriage is hard, but it is so good.

We had come up against our first true blunder in or marriage.  No more bickering over soccer games or stress levels, no more wondering why he wouldn’t take the dogs outside or why she wouldn’t just chill out for a second.  This was a blunder that helped us see a huge hole in our marriage, and it hurt.

It wasn’t a him problem, or a her problem, it was a we problem.

The next day I went to work and received disappointing news that crushed me.  Normally I would always call Tim, and out of habit I still did, but it felt hard, forced, not natural like being with or going to him always has.  I hung up the phone feeling confused and hurt and guilty.

I came home feeling heavy, and confused as to how I should react to Tim when he came home. Do we sit and talk more? Do we continue feeling this pain in silence? Do we act like it never happened just so we can actually try and enjoy the night?

Little did I know Tim had taken care of these questions earlier that day. I walked into my apartment to find it spotless, clean, neat, and orderly.

For those of you who don’t know, it stresses me out to have things messy.  If my environment is messy it is hard for my thought process to be orderly.  I can’t explain this but it just is.  Messy spaces bring me down in a weird way.

As I walked throughout our apartment finding not just one room, or two rooms, but the whole thing clean I began to cry.  I knew Tim hadn’t done this out of guilt or of feeling like he had to get out of the dog house (like I said, and I can’t emphasize enough that this was a WE problem) he had done this out of love.  He knew that  I enjoyed having a clean space, and without even realizing the news I would receive later in the day, he just wanted to make life a little less burdensome for me, because he loves me, and wanted to serve me in some way.

Well that snapped me out of my confusion quickly and when he came home I hugged him and cried again, this time out of gratitude.

The door to communication had been opened and we realized that there was a hole in our marriage, one that had been there for a while, but that we were just now seeing.  There was a problem, and we began strategizing how to fight against it.  We came together to fight for each other, for us.

Fast forward 3 weeks, and once again the apartment is a disaster (we’re working on ways to KEEP it clean throughout our busy weeks, we have not mastered this).  Our daily routines have resumed with some exciting additions, such as guests having come down to see us.  We’re laughing, I’m crying, we’re having fun, we’re feeling stressed, we’re trying to look to God, we’re just living life.

This morning I woke up and realized how grateful I am for marriage.

Over the past week I’ve been thrown into a position where I’m having to look at myself a lot;  I have to reflect on my strengths, and my weaknesses, I have to believe in myself, and be ready to show others why they should believe in me.   In that sentence alone I mentioned myself 5 times.

I’m not trying to be prideful, and I don’t want to be prideful, I’ve prayed to the Lord several times this week first thanking him for the supernatural confidence that had been filling me, and then second confessing that I was worried that I was actually just a puffed up marshmallow of a person full of pride.  I think God answered this prayer of gratitude and concern this morning as I laid next to Tim enjoying the first few moments of daylight snuggling in bed with my partner (I treasure these moments as during the week we don’t get them).  That’s when it occurred to me one of the beautiful aspects of marriage: you’re constantly needing to think of someone else.

Breakfast: what foods should we invest in?

Money: what does Tim think about this budget plan?

Work: how can I get my work done prior to Tim coming home so that I can spend that time with him?

Recreational: when is Tim busy doing things, I will try to plan my events alongside those.

Lunch: what foods should we invest in, frozen meals, sandwhiches?

Hairstyles: what is tim comfortable with? How much maintence do I want to put into a hairstyle, this affects our budget.

Dogs: should we go to the dog park together tonight? Is he willing to go for me so that I can get things done? Am I willing to go for him so he can get stuff done?

Dinner: Tim doesn’t like mushrooms, I’m craving mushrooms, how can I make a meal where I satisfy this craving without making him feel like he is going to throw up.

Bed time: Tim wants to stay up and watch a game tonight, do I stay up with him so that we can go to sleep at the same time, or go to bed and sacrifice that extra time together?

At every moment, in everyday, my thoughts have to go back to my partner, my friend, my beloved, my husband.  I am so grateful for this.  At every moment I am forced to think about someone outside of myself.  I don’t always love doing this, but I do it because I love the one I’m thinking about, and I am grateful that this causes me to take my thoughts off of myself.

The dictionary defines pride as having a super high opinion of oneself. I think though that having a super low opinion of oneself is also pride.  Having an obsession with yourself, whether it be through arrogance or insecurity, puts a person a risk.

Out of arrogance one risks getting to the point of pride where they say Look at all I can do and have done, I don’t need God.

Out of insecurity one risks getting to the point of pride where they say Look at where I am or what I am not, not even God can help me.

Pride, in either form, challenges the power of our Perfect and Loving Lord.  Focus on the self puts one at risk of distancing themselves from God.

Marriage is a beautiful thing, because when good times come I don’t become puffed up with pride to the point where I think I can do all things on my own, and when the bad times come I don’t become so consumed with prideful insecurity that I think no one, not even God himself, could help me out of my situation.  I don’t, because my thoughts are not solely on ME.

I’m thinking what can I do to help my beloved, how can I build him up through this situation? How can I support him through this new trial? How can I make him feel like the amazing man God made him to be? How can I show him that I care about him? How can I get past my insecurities to better love him? How can I level the confidence I feel on my good day to build him up on his bad day?

Marriage is a beautiful thing for so many reasons.  It has helped me grow so much over the past 9 months.  It has challenged me in areas I didn’t know existed, let alone needed to grow.  God has worked through our marriage to stretch me in ways I never perceived.

I am utterly grateful that I have a God that loves me so much, who knows my needs, and gave me a partner to walk through this life with. I am utterly grateful for a night of grieving over a hole in our marriage, that as Tim and I work together to fill, we are drawn even closer, something I arrogantly thought impossible prior to marriage.

Marriage is not easy.  It goes against every natural human instinct to fend for yourself.

But Marriage is so good.

**I want to make a quick note that if you are unmarried I do not think that your are prideful, only you and God know where you stand in that area.  God began working on my humility prior to marriage, we still have long ways to go after marriage, marriage has just been a helpful outlet to see and help me in working through some of my prominent areas of pride.  I am confident that God is doing incredible things in his followers whether or not, in the words of Beyonce, they “put a ring on it.”

This week was by far the WORST week of teaching yet! Between relentlessly unforgiving radicals, fist fights, and ungrateful students (love them, but… it’s the truth) Wednesday, I was ready to quit.  I called Tim that afternoon on my way home and told him I was not going back.

It all started Monday, when the lesson I intended to take half a period began its 4 day journey.  I was teaching special right triangles, which is a very abstract concept compared to other topics we learn in geometry.  I quickly realized that the only thing that could be more frustrating than teaching special right triangles, was learning about special right triangles.  After 50 minutes of unsuccessful hands on discovery I gave up and resorted to lecture and note taking, thinking if I can demonstrate the development of special right triangles THEN they will be able to see and understand, I just need to talk and write through it for them to see.  Oh, how sorry I feel for Monday me.

I’m not sure how, but at some point in the conversation this happened:

Me: “Ok, if I have A and I add another A to it, what will I have?”

Student 1: B!

Student 2: 6.2!

Student 3: 11!

Me: (silently, in my head) what the hell…. b? 6.2? crap… (out loud again…) ok… think of it this way, if i have an apple and I add another apple to it then I’ll have

Students: 2 apples!!

Me: awesome! ok so now I’ll just say A instead of apple.  if I have A, and I add another A, what will I get?

Students: 2 A! This is easy! This is stupid!

Me: ok that’s awesome, so what if I have A^2 and I add another A^2? what will I have?

Students: C^2!

Me: ….. (stunned silence)

Students: I don’t get it, this is hard, this is stupid!

At one point I began talking about taking apples^bannanas… and eventually I just turned around and started gently tapping my head against the white board out of frustration.  My class started apologizing which tore my heart apart.  I told them in the last seconds I had that this was NOT their fault and that my frustration was with my inability to teach them this concept.

In an hour and 20 minutes my entire lesson plan came crashing down (which if you’ve ever made a lesson plan, you know how heart wrenching that is).  So I quickly revised my plan for the next period and the lesson went better… minimally.  The next day I tried to repeat my revised lesson plan with my students in first period only to have everything come crashing down AGAIN, and then to find that the “improvement” in my other classes was not showing up in the data (grades).  2 days, 1 lesson, and 0 growth out of my students.

Repetition.

That will fix the problem.  I’ll just have them do the same thing they don’t know how to do over and over and then magically they will get it.

I actually thought that would work… poor wednesday me…

Needless to say that didn’t, and even working with students individually was not helping to get the concept through. On top of this when fifth period rolled around I almost had a fight break out in my class WHILE visitors from another school came in and another student protested against geometry. W.O.W.

NOTHING WAS WORKING! 3 different lessons which resulted in 3 failed attempts, and on top of that classroom discipline just seemed to disappear.  I went home and I cried. and I cried. and I cried. Then I called a teacher to ask for advice and she said to give it one more shot.  Look up different ideas and give it one more shot.

Well by that time I needed to go to bible study, so before I could plan yet ANOTHER lesson over what I was beginning to think was the devil’s subject, Tim and I got in the car where I pouted all the entire drive while eating nearly half the grapes we were taking to share (how rude).     I made it through dinner barely.  However, when it came time for the actual study part of the evening, while the leader prayed, I went to the bathroom and wept.

Being so far away from family

Feeling so distant from friends

The stress of trying to study for my certification exam

The exhaustion of a full time job and a certification class

The feeling of failure after being so sure I had finally found my rhythm

Exasperation.

Am I doing what God wants me to be doing?

I felt so sure of it… until now. 

Were we where God wanted us?

If yes, then why was it taking so long to form intimate community?

Was it me? My track record in friendships wasn’t great… so was it my fault? Again?

I cried and cried and cried until Tim found me and took me home.  I cried all the way home, and I cried myself to sleep.  Not a big dramatic cry.  The kind of cry where your heart feels like it’s doing more of the weeping then your eyes. I went to sleep at 8:30 that night and did not care to think about the next day, it could take it’s sweet time getting there.

However, as it usually does, the morning came and it was time to go to work.  Not early as I had hoped so that I could PUT a lesson together.  That was a miserable commute that day.

God. Please help me just to make it through the day, and please, PLEASE help my students to get this concept… I can’t stand teaching it anymore.  Also, I need a lesson plan, please help me think of something.

I made it in time for the prayer meeting.  My mentor teacher asked me if I had come up with a new lesson to which I explained how I was too busy crying the night before to come up with one.  I mentioned how frustrated I was and another teacher turned to me and said that I should have the students lay on the floor to be the triangles.  Because of the concept I knew that I couldn’t represent the concept accurately given the varying body lengths of my students but suddenly wheels began turning.

Triangles on the floor.  I was seeing triangles on the floor.

Paper! Colored Paper!

My students couldn’t BE the triangle, but they COULD be parts of the triangle! My head shot up and I announced that I would need some tape.  My mentor teacher happened to have some that I could borrow, as well as colored paper.  After the prayer I quickly ran upstairs to shove all of the desks out of the way and I began feverishly taping giant triangles on my classroom floor.  I finished making the signs just as my first two students walked through the door.

“Class, we will not be sitting today, we will be trying a final attempt at the concept of special right triangles, line up against the wall”

My confused class reluctantly walked over to the wall and I began asking for volunteers.  Here’s a summary:

3 students represented an angle measure: one 30, one 60, and one 90 degrees. This group carried Blue signs with their measurement labeled on it.

3 students represented the side names: shorter leg, longer leg, and hypotenuse. This student carried light green signs with their name labeled on it.

3 students represented the variables that coincided with those sides: x, x times the square root of 3, and 2x. This group carried golden signs with their variables written on it.

I instructed each group to find their location on the triangle one at a time.  At the end I would give a side a number on a small white board and the class would solve out for the other two sides.

This was BEYOND successful, and here is why:

  1. My students learned the concept!!! OH MY GOSH this was amazing to see.  After three full days on this concept with confused in frustrated students, I was able to give my students a handful of scenarios that they were able to solve without aid confidently. w.o.w.
  2. it was fun! We all made up stories during the story time portion to describe scenarios where we would have to solve for the length of the sides of a triangle, my personal favorite was the one about Tom and Jerry (my students are so creative!)
  3. it caught the eye of my academic supivisor who not only recorded it, but used it the video to show student engagement to other math teachers AND some people in the district… I was too excited to catch who
  4. it caught the eye of my AP! She stopped me in the hall to tell me that she loved the idea and e-mailed the principle about it the next day!

WOW. what a difference one day can make.  I went from exasperated failure to successful potential in 2 hours.  As soon as I finished talking with my academic supervisor I closed the door to my classroom, laid my head on my desk, and praised God, because after the past three days HE is the only explanation for such an incredible turn around.

Today my students still knew the concept, almost TOO well as they wanted to use it EVERYWHERE instead of just with special right triangles (opposed to the normal ones… a sarcastic fact).

I am in no hurry to take the tape off my floor as it serves as a good reminder of the lessons teaching the concept taught me:

  1. Try, try, and try again.  If something doesn’t work, learn, research, and try something new
  2. It’s OK to fail… it sucks, but it’s ok.  If I hadn’t done such a terrible job, seeing the success would not have been nearly as humbling or exciting
  3. Learn from others.  Relying on my own brain is a huge mistake when there are so many other people with so many creative ideas.  Limiting my resources to myself is not only a hindrance to me, but also to my students
  4. Plans don’t always work, be flexible.

Thursday didn’t end perfectly, I still left frustrated by other things occurring in the classroom, but it was encouraging.  I am so thankful that God took me through the week and helped me through to the other side.  I still don’t have a lot of answers, and there is still fear in me about community, but if God is willing to meet me on a level as trivial as a lesson plan, I believe I can rest in the knowledge that He will meet me everywhere else.  I am one lucky lady.

So what’s the real lesson here? Hug your teacher, it’s harder than you think.

It’s funny how quickly I can become overly concerned about me.  Specifically others’ perceptions of me.  I needed to take a break from blogging due to the fact that I started worrying more about people “liking” my posts than sticking to the purpose of my blog: to document my journey as this new chapter of my life unfolds.  I started thinking along lines of what my viewers liked to read about instead of what was going on in my life.  At one point I honestly considered writing a blog devoted to the fights Tim and I have had because my entry TheFirstFight  has received the most hits (seriously I get like a few followers and all of a sudden I think I’m some big shot blogger who needs to maintain a following… really Hughes? wait, I mean Hendricks… still adjusting to that).

I didn’t want to deal with the MeMonster because of blogging so I stepped away for awhile to make sure my focus stayed on loving Him and loving others, and not loving what others thought about me, which has been really hard to do! I’ve also stepped away from facebook, almost entirely because at this point it has just gotten depressing.  When you leave a community … you leave the entire community and you really mourn the loss of that community.  However, when a person, or two, leave a community, life in the community keeps going.  The community probably misses those who left, but life’s rhythms aren’t entirely changed.  Because of this it’s really hard to see how friends and family are just going about business as usual while my business has turned inside out, upside down, without anyone I’ve grown to love over my 23 years.  It’s not a bad thing that the rhythm of life keeps going, it’s a beautiful thing, it just stinks to be on the outside looking in while Tim and I are still in this awkward limbo seeking community.

We have found a good bible study, one where I believe we will flourish, and we are getting acquainted with new people, but acquaintances and friends are far from the same thing and acquaintances don’t fill that God designed desire for deep and intimate community.  So we are in limbo now, officially gone so long from our original home that life’s rhythms have changed and evolved without us, while we look on from 12 hours away getting bits and pieces of what is happening, but not yet here long enough to begin seeing where we are on the inside while we begin being apart of something and somewhere new.  And it hurts.  It hurts the heart so much to be without community.

Still this is a beautiful thing, and though we feel the pain of not being with the people we love, we sense a joy that we are only now beginning to explain.

I’m not sure when it dawned on me.  Maybe it was while I was driving to work, the job I love, on the roads that have become second nature (rhythmic) on my daily commute, or maybe it was while I was on my way to ACT Houston, driving on 5 lane highways during rush hour in the city, which suddenly is feeling more natural (rhythmic).  Whenever it was, I was behind the wheel, thinking and thanking through this calm confidence that has been growing within me since June 15th.  Many theories had passed my mind as to why this confidence has grown.  Maybe it was Tim,  because he was able to bring out the best in me, or my job because for the first time I’m doing something that I love, or even just not being in school because I didn’t have to deal with the intense workload or stress that had become my worst and closest friend it had seemed over the past 4 years.

But in one clear instance it was made known to me the reason for my calm confidence: for the first time in my life I was becoming me.

100% me the way I was created to be.

            All my life I have struggled between two things: 

  1. Trying to live up to a set of self defined expectations that I thought would give me worth
  2. Trying to live up to my perceived perceptions I thought others had about me

Let me elaborate.  In college I got two majors, two relatively difficult majors, I worked part time, did YoungLife, was in a sorority, did leadership for the sorority, did leadership for YoungLife, tried to play my role at church etc.  Not because I’m a super good person, but because I thought I needed to look like a super good person.  I needed to look smart, look caring, look strong, so I way overdid it trying to be these things to other people, and in the process I made myself miserable.  That was just in the “success” and “self-worth” areas.  Simultaneously I had this notion of other people’s perceptions of me and I felt I needed to be consistent with those.  Some thought of me as serious and loud in my opinions, some thought of me as shy, others funny, others smart… I had these roles that had, in my mind, been forming since high school and I needed to some how keep them going, keep being the person people thought I was… which was not consistent and a lot to juggle.

So basically it was a good move on God’s part picking me up and placing me in an entirely new place because all of a sudden no one had any perceptions of me.  Suddenly I had nothing to lose and I wasn’t worried about gaining anyone’s approval.  I had learned the lesson to rely on God and find my worth in Him, so if people disliked me, that was fine, God liked me and he would help me find another person who would too.

At first I thought I was putting on a show everywhere I went.  I mean, who was this girl who smiled all the time, cracked jokes (some funny others not) with out hesitation, had a positive outlook constantly, worked hard with out complaint, enjoyed driving on city roads?  Could initiate conversation with anyone, anywhere, at any time, about anything, awkward or not, and walk away feeling confident in what had taken place?  Who was this person that prayed about anything that popped in her mind, and didn’t second guess it? Who was this person that was becoming more in-tune with the Spirit inside her? Who was this person? She kept showing up… consistently, and quite frankly I liked her.  It took me a while to realize that this new girl was me…

I’m not trying to build myself up to be some super awesome person, me is still very selfish, short tempered, and human.  However, me is way better than the “me” I thought I needed to be.

I know I’m happier than ever because I’m in a place where my mind can’t get in the way (at least not all the time) so God can finally start showing me His daughter, the daughter he made, and loves, and delights in.

God knows me better than I know myself.  He knew, all along, who I was trying to be, and how to help me see who I’m meant to be.  I’m meant to be Hailey Hendricks, married to a man who brings out my best qualities and balances out my weaknesses.  I’m a teacher, meant to interact with people, to instruct, organize, create, laugh, and love passionately.  I’m in Texas, far away from everything I’m familiar with, exposed, so for the first time I have no one and nothing to hide behind, but instead am forced to face the real me.  And I like me.

I’m not self obsessed now, by no means, I was before! I know that now looking back, but now I’m simply flourishing.  Finally I’m flourishing.  For so long I’ve wanted to find my music, like Mozart had his, and I have.  Not without a few bumps in the road, but I know that I can flourish, which drives me to learn, and rest, and do the best I can.  I am flourishing as Tim’s partner, as a teacher, and yes, a Texan.  All because I am finally free, just to be me, to delight in who God made me to be, to delight in who he made others to be, and to flourish.  It is a wonderful, beautiful, humbling experience to be free to be me.

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