Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Summer Update # Whatever This Is: It IS What It IS

Summer doesn’t officially end until near the end of September, but I don’t think a lot of people around here actually pay attention to such trivial things as the autumnal equinox. No, here seasons are defined by what is happening with school. When school starts, it’s no longer summer. It’s fall. And when kids stop talking about turkeys and start talking about snowmen, then it’s no longer fall. It’s winter. And when kids stop wishing for snow days and start talking about Easter Egg hunts, then it’s spring. And when school gets out, even though it’s technically still spring, people say it’s summer. So the calendar isn’t the boss anymore. Since the girls I watch a few afternoons a week have already begun the new school year, and since I’ve been planning for preschool all week, I guess I’m going to have to admit that the summer is gone. But since my first day of preschool isn’t until next week, I’m still calling this summer.

I didn’t update as much as I wanted to this summer. I still don’t have internet access at my apartment, and really, I’m not sure when that’s going to change. So even though the summer is over, I’m still not going to have a regular blogging schedule for a while. And that’s okay, because even if it’s not still summer, I’m still sort of in a summer frame of mind. And this summer was a summer of change. I’m still going through some transition. I figured I’d be through it already, but you know, I have no idea how long things are going to be changing. And really, when do things ever stop changing anyway?

I still need to find a roommate (or two). There still needs to be some work done (both cleaning and repair work) on the apartment, so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to advertise for a roommate. I have to pay rent in a few days, and I’m going to have to go further into debt in order to do that. I worried about it for a few hours, and then realized that worrying isn’t going to fix it.

I wanted to get a new teaching assistant job this school year. I wanted the security of a full time job. I wanted the pay rate of a full time job. I wanted health insurance. I wanted to stop doing so many jobs so I could have more time to write and do other things. Well, the teaching assistant job didn’t happen. Part of my problem is that I waited too long to apply, and part of my problem was that I didn’t go out and try to sell myself to the many schools in the area, and part of my problem is that I really just don’t think it was meant to be right now. So I’m going to keep working four jobs that pull me in different directions and often don’t give me the hours or income I need. I worried about it for a while, and then realized that worrying isn’t going to change anything.

I realized that since I waited so long to figure out stuff about a teaching assistant job, I wasn’t putting in as much effort as I needed to on my preschool job. I’m lead teacher this year, and while it’s not a huge deal, it does require quite a bit more responsibility than being just a preschool assistant teacher. I didn’t worry about this; I freaked out about it. And part of that was because I was still wanting to worry about finances and roommate situations and change change change. Then I threw some tantrums, calmed down, threw some more tantrums, calmed down, and realized that I was in a cycle of throwing tantrums and calming down. And to quote my friend Bonnie, I finally realized I just needed to CALM DOWN.

I tend to be an emotional person (no, really, you hadn’t noticed?), but lately things were just roller coastering out of control. And the other day when I was having a really good morning and something very small threatened to ruin my whole day, I had to ask myself why I was so upset over it. Satan’s been attacking me on an emotional level, and I finally told him to STOP IT. The thing about Satan is, he’s powerful, but for the Christian, he only has as much power as we give him. And I wasn’t going to give him any more power.

So I’ve adopted a new philosophy that’s really going to have to get me through this time of change: It is what it is, and what I can do is what I can do.

It’s not that I’m just throwing in the towel and saying that it doesn’t matter. What I’m saying is that worrying doesn’t do any good. It is what it is, and what I can do is what I can do. But it isn’t really all that bad when I think of how bad others have it, and I can actually do a lot if I stop whining about it and just do it. The preschool stuff is still going to take some responsibility, but if I just sit down and do it, one step at a time, it’s not hard. It just takes some work. Honestly, I could use something to force me to be organized. My finances are seriously messed up and I don’t know if my jobs are going to pay for everything that I need—especially since I still don’t have a roommate and don’t exactly know when I’m getting one. But now that I’ve moved all my stuff into the smaller room in my apartment, so that I can offer the larger room to a potential roommate or two, I’ve managed to simplify “my space” in a way that will actually be a lot more comfortable and functional for me. And God knows my job situations. He’s promised that if I seek Him and His Kingdom first, then all the other things I need will be provided. And if I stop worrying and thinking about myself, I can see that there are so many reasons why He still has me in the places where I am. There are people I can minister to in my secular jobs. There are children I can love on and coworkers to encourage in all of my jobs. There are people at all my jobs who are like family to me, and honestly, if I had left them, it would have broken my heart.

And one day I probably will leave these jobs, and if I do, it will break my heart. Because change is both good and bad. And sometimes change doesn’t look like how you expected it to look. And sometimes change takes longer than you think it will. But there are always things to be learned through it. And I should have known this season of change would be harder than I imagined it would—because I obviously need a lot of lessons.

I still don’t know what this year is going to bring. I do still believe that there is something amazing waiting for me on the other side of all this change. I do still believe there is much for which to hope. I do still believe that God is working all things together for good for those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose. I do still believe that even in the midst of financial problems and change, I am richly, deeply blessed. I do still believe that the fall, whenever it actually comes, is going to be a time of harvest. I do still believe that He’s doing something with me. I do still believe that He’s using me to bring His love to others. And if this change is something that will more greatly enable Him to work through me, then who am I to complain?

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Sometimes we struggle with knowing God’s will. We want to know His plans, all cleanly laid out, for the next decade of our lives. But the thing is, we already do know God’s will. He wants us to seek Him. He wants us to read His Word, pray, get to know His heart. He wants us to love one another. He wants us to look outside of ourselves and see what needs to be done where we are. And when I stop throwing tantrums and finally do just CALM DOWN, I can stop worrying about me me me, and start seeing others as God sees them. I can start seeing situations as God sees them. It’s funny, but when I stop focusing on myself, I can actually start seeing how God sees me.

I spent a lot of my younger years trying to shine. I failed a lot. I kept trying to cause myself to shine. But we aren’t meant to be able to shine. We’re just meant to reflect. We’re meant to reflect the One who shines. Then, only then, can we shine, too.

My reflections are still poor, but I’m learning.