This past weekend, I had my first snow day as a teacher. It was one that we were all highly anticipating after hearing the menacing forecast of eight to twelve inches of snow. Sure enough, the night before the expected snowstorm, we received a phone call canceling school, giving us a long weekend.
Most of the other teachers were excited to spend a day relaxing or maybe spend it with their kids or families. I, however, as the first-year teacher was planning to use the day to catch up on all the essays I had to grade. I had made the rookie mistake of assigning essays to multiple grades all due on the same day. Whoops!
As the snow day went on, my pile of papers to grade did not seem to be decreasing as quickly as I thought it should be. I felt like I had been grading all day, yet my pile did not reflect that. Friday came and went, and I still had a mound of papers to grade. Saturday passed by and, while I finished most of the papers, I had just a few stragglers, along with planning lessons for the next week, to complete on Sunday.
By the time Sunday afternoon rolled around, I was feeling like I could conquer the rest of my to-do list in just a few hours and have the evening to relax. However, as had been the theme of my weekend, nothing was taking as little time as I had originally thought. I ended up at school until 8:30 p.m. or so and left with a few things left on my original to-do list.
I was exhausted. When I left school Sunday night, I even felt a little bit defeated. Everyone says being a first-year teacher is rough, but I hadn’t really believed anyone or experienced it until this moment. I felt like I would never complete the to-do list, and it seemed that my list was only growing longer.
I was questioning if this teaching thing would ever get any easier.
Monday morning, I went in to school earlier than normal to compensate for the to-do list, and I quickly buzzed through the items and even had time to spare to finish my breakfast smoothie. My prep period came, and I finished grading everything students had turned in. After school, I sped through the last little bit of my list and was out the door by 4:30.
That question from the night before was totally out of my mind. I left school feeling affirmed in my calling and totally sure that this was what I want to spend my life doing.
It’s so easy to start to feel discouraged about almost every aspect of our lives. We feel unqualified to serve, or we feel like there is surely someone else better at our job than us. We begin to question why God led us to be a teacher, doctor, lawyer, chef, or mechanic. Long nights at work can make us wonder why in the world we chose this profession. We can think that we are the worst daughter, sister, mother, brother, father, or friend.
We question why God had us begin whatever it is we’re doing, and we ourselves forget why we started.
Today at school, I was given numerous reminders of why I started this task of being a teacher:
- I found out that a student who was absolutely driving me crazy had been taking care of his sick mother this weekend, causing him to be totally unfocused today. God quietly reminded me that he needed someone on his side.
- As I read a journal of an eighth-grade boy, I was actually laughing out loud. God reminded me that this teaching business doesn’t have to be all serious.
- As I read another journal of a young girl writing about her struggles, God gently pushed me to reach out to her. He reminded me that she needed someone to talk to.
- One particularly quiet student stayed after class to let me know how excited she was that she was accepted into the honors program for high school. God reminded me that she needed a cheerleader to celebrate with her.
All of these little moments, while they may seem insignificant, served as great reminders of why I became a teacher. God used these little things to quietly whisper, “Hannah, this is why I called you to teach. These children need you.”
Remember why you started. Remember why God called you to do what you are doing.
In Philippians 1:6, Paul reminds us of God’s promise to us:
“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
God did not call you only to leave you hanging. He is still using you for His glory. Whether you feel it or not, our heavenly Father is using the smallest moments, even the small moments with my students, to remind us of our callings, but even more to work through us.
Remember, God is using even those moments that feel unusable. In fact, those are often the moments in which God moves the most. We may never see the fruits of our labor, but our Lord is using us to accomplish His kingdom work.
Keep doing His work,