So, I had my first formal observation this week. I’ve always prided myself on my excellent reviews and this time I anticipated another good one. I went into this observation covered in prayer. I had a lot of people praying for me and I had prayed about it too. Unlike normal, I went into my observation with a supernatural peace. But as soon as the day started, I knew it was going to be much more than I bargained for. In a nutshell, it was a total flop. All sorts of things went wrong, we got a late start, and by the end the kids were just about crying for snack time. It was too long for my kids to focus and by the end of the lesson, I was as ready for snack time as the kids were. My one kid who’s been making a lot of progress behaviorally decided that that would be his day to try his old antics again and man, did he!
Anyways, following my observation, I entered a short-lived depression for the entirety of my kids’ Chinese class (30 minutes) but finally decided to just open my Bible and what I found turned out to be quite revelatory.
- I opened to Mark 12 where Jesus tells a parable about the Pharisees (the “Religious” leaders of his day)- how they killed the prophets that God had sent previously and how they would eventually kill the Son as well (himself). The Pharisees knew that Jesus was talking about them and they decided that they wanted to kill Him but it says that, because they were “afraid of the crowd,” they waited to do so. Now I’ve never thought I was in the least bit like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day; in fact, they disgust me. They didn’t get it, their hearts were hard, but as I read that verse and looked at my note to the side: “the fear of man,” I realized that I might be more like the Pharisees than I had previously thought. I realized that I was desperately seeking the approval of my Principal- to an unhealthy level. I realized that most of my time and effort in the classroom has been first, for the kids, but also to prove my worth to my supervisors. God revealed that my heart was more concerned about how they perceived me than it was concerned how He sees me. I realized I need to be content that Jesus sees my heart for the kids, and the work I put in, and how much they are learning and growing and to stop worrying about what anyone else thinks.
- The second thing I realized is that school, for me, has become something of an idol. Not the kind of idol that you like, but the kind that consumes all of your time, your waking thoughts, and energy. It has taken precedence over my marriage, over my personal life, time with friends, and over my quiet time. We have devoted most of our waking hours to school- preparation, paperwork, etc. We come home and talk about school: what we can do, what we can change, what is working and not working. We even dream about school. It was so consuming that I was falling asleep at night reading my Bible, absolutely exhausted; it had me so wrapped up in teaching that I forgot that my purpose here is to be a light and to serve others. I forgot that teaching is my job and not my life.
- The third thing stems off of that. I realized that I have been finding my identity in who I am as a teacher, instead of in who I am in Christ. I have been a teacher who is also Angie instead of being Angie, who is a teacher. Everything I do is about teaching. Everything I do should be about Christ.
So, as crazy as it sounds, I am thankful that my observation sucked. I am thankful that I had a wake-up call, although brutal, that I need to change some things around in my life. School needs to have boundaries; we need to carve out time for ourselves, for our marriage, for exploring this new place we call “home.” Lessons in humility are always painful but I am thankful that God cares more about my holiness than he does my happiness. As I was reminded by a good friend, “Thos who look to Him are radiant; their faces will never be put to shame.” Psalm 34:5