Sunday, May 1, 2016

Shall I falter or shall I finish?

Sunset Beach Pier... just six weeks away... but how will I make it through the weeks ahead?
Happy May Day everybody! I looked at Andy this morning, and said, "It's May. I can't believe we've made it this far." For every exhausted student, parent and teacher out there- the end is in sight.

And yet... there are a lot of hours of a lot of days before we get to the finish line. I find myself tempted to just go off in a corner of my mind and day-dream about the summer. I want to indulge myself in happy thoughts and sail away on a tide of pins about first birthday party decorations and summer wardrobe must-haves.

But there's an AP exam on May 9. There are finals after that, and students will need tutoring. There will be dozens of meetings to wrap up loose ends. There's a lot of work to be done. And I find myself even more exhausted than usual. The added dynamic of switching roles from mom to teacher, back to mom has been utterly exhausting-(said every working mother ever).

Outside of my end-of-the-school-year tunnel vision, I catch glimpses of what's going on in the rest of the world. Our church has been encouraging its members to "love where we live," meaning that we reach out into our communities to love our literal neighbors. My BSF notes this week are strumming a similar chord- encouraging me to sacrifice and serve now, knowing that my inheritance in heaven is completely secure. This line resonated with me in my BSF notes, "Sleep can be sacrificed for the sake of early morning prayer, knowing that perfect rest lies ahead (in heaven)." The theme of sacrifice continues, as the notes encourage me to forgive, knowing that complete healing awaits me in heaven (last week's sermon was on this very same thing!) and to stand firm in my faith, even if the world turns against me,  because I know that there's safety in my eternal home.

Easier read than done. I am tired. Like, really, really tired. Life, relationships, work... there has been so much struggle this year. I am weary of mind, body and soul. I stopped getting up early to pray months ago. I'm just too tired, and my body wants to sleep until 6:30. Even if I try to get up, I fall asleep on the sofa before any quality prayer ever happens. I want a break from trouble, and freedom from responsibility. I want the beach and a page-turner and for my biggest struggle to be having to get up to re-apply sunscreen.

And all this business about forgiveness and standing firm and loving others? That's super scary. Has anyone else done that lately and gotten totally burned? My church shares encouraging stories on Sunday mornings about people who have reached out, loved their neighbors and seen amazing things happen. I know that possibility exists. Andy and I have built some real relationships with neighbors and it really is a good thing. But relationship building- whether in your workplace, your neighborhood or even your own family- it's a risky business. Vulnerability is a terrifying thing. People will take advantage of it, or completely ignore it, and, after a couple of rounds of that, you just want to draw back, get inside your comfort zone and hang up a sign that says "LEAVE ME ALONE."

Jesus has other plans, better plans, than mine. I believe in His plans, but I lack follow through on executing them. I believe that there's power in prayer- I'm just too tired to pray. I believe that there's safety in Jesus, that He will always love me, even when He allows me to be wounded by others. I believe that His words that tell me to put myself last are true and good, but they require courage to act upon. And, right now, I'm feeling like a coward. Like a very tired coward.

So, I ask my Heavenly Father this question- "shall I falter or shall I finish?"- I have it written on a little chalkboard in my classroom. But it's not just a question for the students. It's not even a question for me. I don't have what's necessary to finish. I'm too tired to pray, too scared and weak to love. So, Lord, what will it be? Will you supply me with energy and courage so that I can finish well? You've got a stronger track record of finishing things than I. Help me finish well this May, and then, yeah, some days on the beach would be really, really nice.

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