It’s been awhile since I last posted. Life and insecurities got in the way and convinced me that a couple of posts a week weren’t a really impactful way to make a difference, and I slowly stopped using this platform. But God, being who He is, isn’t going to place gifts in us and then allow them to remain stagnant and unused. Shoutout to Kathy, who stopped me one day at church, looked me dead in the eye, and said “remember how MONTHS AGO I told you how well you write and how you needed to blog and you told me ‘I actually have one that I need to revive’? What’s happening with that?” That very same day, I came home and renewed my domain. Kathy, this post is due in large part to you. Everyone needs a little spark re-ignited from time to time. Thank you for sharpening my iron!
This post is actually about the power of words that don’t come from me. Sierra, this post is in large part because of you as well.
So I have (refuse to say had) this coworker named Sierra. I am convinced that there are a few roles in every place of business that employees slide in and out of at will. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but you have the watercooler prince(ss) who knows all the comings and goings. There’s the unsung hero, who does superhuman things with the time and space and opportunity that we are actually all handed–they just leverage it well. There’s the cheerleader, who sincerely believes that
As a character foil to the cheerleader, there’s the negative Nancy (or Nathan maybe, if it a guy. Nate? Nehemiah? Whatever.) NN can find the awful in everything. There’s the slacker, who has perfected the art of doing the least and retaining gainful employment. And so on, and so forth. In this scenario, Sierra is the unsung hero–the dream team all in one petite teacher package. She collaborates, she plans, she does, she supports, she does more, etc. She was intimidating (to me, anyway) for the first half of the school year because she seems to have it on LOCK.
She is pursuing other opportunities now, which means it is going to be really surreal to walk past her room in about a week and not see her in there with the lights low and computer open, preparing for the day. I could always count on a chipper “Morning!” from her as I called out hellos while walking down to my room. Sierra has done a lot for the school I am a part of and everyone in it, but one thing that I doubt she knows that she did is relieve so much of my anxiety about joining a new school.
Since I last posted, I became a teaching fellow at an all girls middle school, and it has easily been one of the tougher years of my life professionally. There were–are–many days that I don’t feel like I know what I am doing. There are some really challenging kids, and for someone that is used to winning kids over, there are more than a few that I still can’t figure out. Am I working with these kids well? Am I supporting my co-teacher? Am I being the right mix of loving and firm? Am I friendly? Am I communicating to these kids that I may be friendly but I AIN’T (yes ain’t) your friend? Am I leaving no doubt in my administrator’ mind that she made the right choice in taking a chance on me? Most importantly, am I representing God to the best of my ability? I don’t walk around balancing a Bible on my head to improve my posture, but I am definitely open about my faith and how it guides my thoughts, actions and opinions. It can be a lot.
One of the last days before spring break was one of those kinda days. I’d gotten frustrated with my resource block and had taken come back to my room at dismissal to fire off a few emails and head to my own classes, and I honestly would much rather have gone home and dove under the bed until the next day. I opened my laptop and I see–a letter. From Sierra.
If you don’t know, words of affirmation are my love language. Keep your trinkets, keep your flowers, PLEASE KEEP your cards where you only sign “Tim” and keep it moving (such a waste). But to take some good old fashioned notebook paper (or stationary) and write me a note makes my day on a good day. On a not so good day, it was everything I could have hoped for. Before I even read the letter, I thought to myself, “this is going to make you cry”. And my soul said, “yup, and that good cry is going to reset you so you can finish your day.”
I was ok until I got to this portion:
Cue waterworks. I truly think that within that letter lies the highest compliment that someone, especially a person of faith, can receive. It affirms that yes, I am doing this work with intentionality and excellence, but also that I AM MAKING MY FATHER PROUD WHILE DOING SO. What more could I hope to achieve?
I was talking to a friend later about how I boohooed like a fool at work, and she said something that I thought was pretty on point:
What I took from that goes back to the passage in the Bible about spiritual gifts; 1 Corinthians 12 says “4. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 7. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9. to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10. to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
There is a metaphor later in the passage that reads that we are all parts and pieces of one body doing different functions for the Kingdom. Folly would tell us that if we aren’t preaching, then we aren’t doing anything, but that simply isn’t true. I am serving my community and my God by showing up to work every morning and honoring my coworkers and my students. Someone else serving by preparing food, repairing vehicles, taking care of the earth or guiding people to financial freedom. Living–purposeful living–can be enough. Please remember that–please hold ME to that if I ever internalize the lie that blogging isn’t a ministry and a way to serve God in and of itself. Sierra, thank you for the timely reminder. Blessings in your next steps!!!