I am blaming the gap between posts on a major event in my life: the start of school. Yes, Monday, August 27, marked my family’s second year at Stony Brook and my re-entry in the classroom.
The first week of school was crazy. New York state law requires schools that begin before Labor Day to hold morning athletic practices rather than afternoon practices due to heat. I find this HUGELY ironic given the heat that my children and the rest of the athletes at Live Oak practiced in each day from August until October in Texas. What this meant was that school didn’t start until 10:45 am and ended at 5:15 pm. Also, each day every class met for a shortened time period. Thirty-five minutes goes by in a blink-of-the-eye. I have a tendency to speak fast anyway so the deer-in-the-headlights look I received from my seventh graders wasn’t a total surprise. They were probably afraid to blink lest they miss any detail! By the end of the first week, all Stony Brook faculty were dragging. Yet, we rallied to participate in the yearly Class Challenges Friday evening in which the grades compete against each other in a variety of activities.
This past week was a “normal” week, which meant class periods lasted forty-five minutes Monday-Wednesday, and block periods lasted ninety minutes Thursday-Friday. I now have a better sense of what my week will look like going forward, which is a big deal for me and the point of this post. I don’t like the in-between/transition moments, where I am figuring out my new routines. I feel out-of-sorts during these moments, and miss out on the little joys of each day.
I really don’t like this aspect about myself. Shouldn’t I be able to adapt to the “in-flux” nature of life at this point? I’m middle-aged, for goodness sakes! If growth in an area is the ability to admit to yourself what is going on, then I am making some progress. As I munched on my garlic beef at the local Thai restaurant this past Wednesday night, I was able to articulate my thoughts to Brad. While we didn’t uncover any brilliant insight that will change this part of me, I was struck (again) how this is an issue of control for me.
My routines and habits, which provide a source of the good, true, and beautiful in my life, can also be a subtle way for me to think that I am in control of my life. The very reason I don’t like constantly changing days or figuring out what happens next is that I have no control over these moments.
Charles Ringma, professor emeritus at Regent College, has written some wonderful devotional books. These are NOT the cheesy, feel good sort of devotionals. Even though I have read his books several times, I still uncover new truths with each reading. The one I am currently reading is entitled Life in Full Stride. In one of his devotionals, he talks about the practice of opening one’s hands while praying as an act of submission. This is what I need—open hands. Not tightly gripped hands that think they can control each moment of the day. Open hands that recognize God’s sovereignty in my life. Even more amazing, is the freedom I will experience when I don’t feel like I have to take care of it all.
That’s my prayer for the next week as I continue to adjust and settle into a new school year: Lord, here are my open hands. Teach me to trust you today.