Everything in me wants to write a more lighthearted post on how I stay sane. The insanity brought on by the end of the school year is enough to make anyone want to pull their hair out. I have been grading essays while monitoring teenagers whose minds are already on summer vacation but who still need to take finals at the same time as I am trying to get my classroom organized for the next teacher coming in. If only I had a superwoman t-shirt…and more coffee.
Instead, as I look back on this last year, I see many extremely dark moments. Moments where it was hard to get out of bed. Moments where my whole body would shake because of stress and anxiety. Moments where I wanted to cry, but my heart was too numb. Moments where I wanted to check myself into some type of hospital but didn’t have the language skills to explain what was wrong with me. Moments where I struggled to produce any sentences in any language. Moments where the only thing keeping me from leaving the country was I was too overwhelmed to pack or to buy a plane ticket.
(Sorry, mom. I know it is hard for you to read this.)
I want to forget any of this ever happened. I want to pretend last year wasn’t so bad. I want to attribute my stress to events such as the time my student superglued his chopstick to his finger or the never ending piles of grading. I want to be able to attribute my stress to SOMETHING and fix the problem, but I can’t. I can make changes to get healthy, but I can’t fix anything.
It is taking every ounce of willpower to not go back and edit the last paragraphs, to make it more mild. It seems overdramatic or hyperbolic. Yet, I need to show just how dark these days were. My life falling apart has been a way to show Christ’s sustaining power.
Saying He gave me words and patience as I dealt with a student who had covered his hand in paint may be true, but it doesn’t show the fullness of His power. Saying Christ gave me words when a student came and asked for prayer because she felt hopeless shows His power more. In order to show the fullness of His power, I also must recognize how hopeless I myself was, how I was struggling to see anything good, and how I was having trouble putting together simple sentences. As I prayed, the words that flowed out of me were not my words. The wisdom was not my wisdom. I can take no credit. It was the Holy Spirit’s power alone giving me anything to offer.
I could think of many ways I tried to stay sane. Coffee breaks. Sunday afternoon naps. Long bubble baths. Skype calls with loved ones. Reading books, blogs, and anything I could get my hands on. Cereal for dinner. I would recommend all of these. I would recommend doing whatever works for you in order to stay sane. Even so, this is not a long term solution and sanity seemed to be slipping farther and farther from reach. I knew something needed to change.
My sanity began to return when I gave up. I gave up trying to hold it together. I gave up the pretense of being capable. I gave up the idea of having any wisdom. I gave up the thought I could meet expectations. I gave up hope of fixing my life on my own.
I. GAVE. UP.
I needed Christ’s power to make it through the day (or the hour…or the next few minutes). When I accepted His power, a beautiful change happened. His words and His power started flowing out of me into those around me. I have watched stunned and amazed as I have seen the change His power brought me. It gave me the strength to listen to the stories of others around me, and has given me the courage to share my own story giving others the opportunity to say, “me, too!”
Like so many things about Christ, it is counterintuitive. I reached the end of myself, and he came and filled me with His power. He didn’t give me just enough power to limp to the finish line. He has filled me so I am able to share with others.
Paul said it best in 2 Corinthians 12:9.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”