I feel like I spend my life praying the same prayer, taking the same test, repeating the same cycle. And as I sit on the edge of lunacy, I reach out to some of my closest friends (because, of course, I am furious with God and not speaking to Him at the moment). But even as I turn my back, shrug my shoulders, roll my eyes and pout like a 5-year in the midst of a temper tantrum, I sneak in my favorite prayer. “Dear God, I could really use a miracle.”
And God smiles, and He picks me up and twirls me around. I demand that He put me down as the circles are making me dizzy, and I am not up for His antics at the moment. He obliges and allows me to return to my pity party in peace. My best friends offer words of encouragement. My co-workers offer words of encouragement. None of it is enough. I am too angry. Everything sends me over the edge. I cannot calm down. And for the 500th time, I tell myself that I have been here before. Why am I here again? I should be past this by now. And I hear God incessantly in my ear, the same way I am incessantly in my students ears at school, “Talk to me. I know you are angry with me. You do not appreciate this lesson, but I am right here. I can take whatever it is that you have to dish out. Start talking.”
At first I am all out of words. And He hears them all…
Then I give Him more than an earful. I am still broke. And in order for me to be not broke, I have to do all this planning, which is all fine and great, but I still have no time to plan. Every minute of my life is full from the beginning of my day until the end. And I could free up some time if I cut down on the stuff I actually enjoy doing, but then I am still overwhelmed. Overwhelmed because I cut out the time of doing things I enjoyed and filled it with things like cleaning, and budgeting, and grading papers. (My blood pressure spikes even at typing those things.) Overwhelmed because my patience is three minutes past over. My last straw is sitting in pieces in the trash can. Overwhelmed because money and peace are low, while responsibilities are high. And I am DONE talking about it because I have talked about all of it before. I literally have nothing new to say.
“Then tell Me again, Brittany…Tell Me again.”
So I tell Him. I start over after I already started over.
And while I am recounting my story, I start winning. At first, I think that the wins are unconnected. Because I am still tired. I am still overwhelmed. I am still impatient with my children. My temper is still short. And then I win again.
…My husband asks me at the track meet how things are looking. I remember telling him that it does not look good, that we are up against my high school summer track coach, and his team keeps beating us, that we gave are giving it all we have, but we will probably come up short. And as we are picking up our belongings, and making our way to the bus, we hear the announcement….We WON!…
Again and again and again…And seconds after I tell my husband that I do not think I can teach anymore, that maybe I should be a para at my son’s school so that we can afford to send them to school there…so I do not break, the principal calls my name for the teacher of the month. It takes all I had not to burst into tears on the spot.
…Yesterday, my husband was watching some sports show and I remember overhearing a kid named Josh Dobbs saying, “You don’t get burned out by what you do. You get burned out because you forget why you do it.” I have since learned that the comment originated from a guy named John Gordon via a girl named Tiffany Darling.
Wherever it came from, God followed up with, “Did you hear that? You stopped speaking to me because you were angry so I had to get creative in in my response. You forgot why you started.
“While you were a children’s minister, you could easily see past the adults to the true meaning of your ministry. You worked tirelessly because you never forgot about those kids. You were doing what you were doing for the the children. Everything else was secondary. Then I asked you to resign, and you got lost in the wait time.
“Then your next level hit you with a heavy dose of reality, and you lost it. You lost focus. You forgot. You forgot I sent you. You forgot why I sent you. You forgot that I needed you specifically. So I sent you a reminder for every time you forgot…
“Five regular season track meets. Five regular season wins. You think you may even win state. It is a long shot, but you believe in long shots…So do I. It is precisely why you asked me for a miracle because you need me to help you remember. Those kids would go to war for you. And just in case you thought it was not you, I sent you another reminder. They asked you if you could open the gate so they could practice, so they could practice on the days you did not have practice scheduled…And you remembered Belle Chasse…You remember when you had to tell them not to practice. You remember when you had to tell them to rest. You remembered thinking that there was something special about those kids. And there was…but there is also something special about you. Something I need you to remember…so I reminded you.
“Your students nominated you for teacher of the month. You thought it may perhaps be your co-workers who saw you at the end of your rope struggling to hold on. You thought that maybe they needed you to have a pick-me-up. And they did…but it was your students. Every day all year they tell their other teacher how wonderful you are. Every day they go on and on about how much they love you so one day, she wrote down all the things they had to say and emailed them. Not when you were fresh and happy and on your “A-game,” but when a “C” was all you had to offer… Your students needed you to remember. I need you to remember.
“Your prayers are not the same. Your tired is not the same. Your overwhelmed is not the same. This level is not the same.
“Everything you are experiencing is completely different. You doing things you have never done before. You are doing things that have NEVER been done before.
“I just need you to remember why you do it. I just need you to remember why you started…Your “C” is enough for an undefeated season – not just on the track but in any area of your life. Your ordinary is more than enough.
“So when you feel as though burnout is inevitable, I just need you to remember. Look back at your husband and family, your students and your athletes. Look at your career and your track record. Look at Me.
“The fruits of your ordinary are extraordinary.”
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