I suppose you could say this post was inevitable. It was bound to come pouring out from my heart at one point or another, and with the start of a new year, it's the perfect time share, even though it has absolutely nothing to do with teaching. It's about to get real... and real personal. To be completely honest, 2013 was a year of great ups and downs. I was blessed with new friendships, a big award from NEA, and new opportunities with SDE, and there are so many other things to be thankful for and happy about. More often than not though, I felt like I was walking under my very own rain cloud for most of 2013. My dad was officially diagnosed with Coal Miner's Pneumoconiosis (or Black Lung Disease) early in the year. That was like a swift kick in the gut. He and I are extremely close, so it's been hard to see him hooked up to an oxygen tank all of the time, and to hear about how frustrated he gets with all of the equipment... including his sleep apnea machine. My mom has been experiencing some really strange symptoms and pain in her abdomen... and she's undergone a slew of tests as well... so far we have no idea what's causing everything. She has had problems with her knees for several years, but recently she can't even go up and down stairs. As one of the babies in my family, with sisters and cousins in their mid-forties, it was a serious wake up call. My parents are getting older. Their health is already deteriorating. It makes me wonder how much longer I'll get to have them around sometimes. Then my little sister had procedures done to remove a patch of skin cancer, and that worried me since we lost both grandmothers to melanoma. Of course, I've had my own health scares this year too... including a cancer scare that (fortunately) turned out to be nothing but a scare ... a few surgeries... and my constant and excruciating migraines. And sweet baby Stella (our puppy) had her own health scare that landed her in surgery twice in a month with an intestinal blockage and resulting complications. It wasn't the worst year in my life, by FAR, but it wasn't all rainbows and unicorns either. That is just the tip of the iceberg.
You know what? It's hard not to worry about things. It's hard not to worry about your health... or your parents' health... or your kids... or your pets. It's hard not to worry about how you will ever get your house cleaned, write your lesson plans, work out, pay for this or that, and find time for a normal life. It's been hard for me not to worry about creating something for my students when I know it would benefit them, but then trying to balance all of that that with real life expectations and time constraints. It's difficult not to worry about the Third Grade Guarantee, the OAA, OTES, and Common Core shifts in a brand new teaching position. It's hard for me to let things slide, to allow a week to go by without blogging, to spend a whole day away from my computer and away from school stuff, and it's hard for me to think about how I will ever balance this with motherhood someday. It' s hard for me not to worry. Period.
Here's the thing though. I've been in far worse places than the place I'm in right now. I've been lower, sadder, and more lost. I've been more overwhelmed, more discouraged, and more listless. I've experienced more than my share of life traumas that I've worked through with lots of prayer and a few very close, very trusted and cherished friends. I've battled depression... debilitating and crushing sadness... and I came out of the other side even stronger than before. And through it all, this is what I've learned: Worrying is, essentially, distrust of God's plan for my life. Some people say that anxiety is just part of life... that it's just a symptom of our fast-paced society... but I see it differently. I think it's a vice... and it's definitely my biggest. It's definitely that one thing I want to change about myself on a professional and a personal level. I want to worry less, and trust more. I want the kind of freedom and joy that can only come from letting go and letting God.
It's true you know...
With that said, I want to leave you with an amazing video. This weekend, our church incorporated it into our sermon, and it really struck a nerve. It made me realize that if I were in the video, my mug shot would have the word "worry" scrawled across my picture. It also made me realize that life is full of choices--choices that you and I have to have the courage to make. I, for one, don't want to be stuck in the proverbial rocking chair of worry. I don't want to live in a continuous state of panic. I just want to be content. I just want to weather the storms of life (and school) and adjust my sail without sending myself into a tizzy over what could happen if my ship sinks. I want this because I know that even when my life was basically shipwrecked... and even when I have hit rock bottom... there's always a silver lining... and things always get better. So, I will worship God in this storm, and I will trust Him more than ever. He makes beautiful things out of dust.... and we only need to seek Him... and He will make beautiful things out of US. Here's to a beautiful 2014 and new beginnings!