Monday, December 23, 2013

A Sunrise of Grace

The sun rose crimson red. The perfect half circle of a sun, nestled in between the nook of two mountains, was crimson, scarlet. It shown up into the sky like a beacon making the clouds appear as various hues of yellow to purple. It painted the trees opposite it in amber light, and the moving clouds made the mountains look as though they were waltzing underneath that glorious light.

Every morning of the past six weeks I had been gifted with beautiful sunrises. One morning everything from each blade of grass to the branches on even the smallest tree were coated in frost. This beauty was magnified by the sunrise – a palette of pale oranges, pinks, and yellows that danced off the frost, sending colour everywhere. However, the beauty of the last sunrise outdid all the others. It was as if its Maker knew that this was the finale and therefore created the most beautiful sunrise I'd ever seen.

Because Christmas time is right around the corner, I had shuffled a mix of Sufjan Steven's older Christmas music to play on my drive to school. The melodies danced through the speakers. As I crested the top of the hill where the sunrise was displayed like a painting in the Louvre, Amazing Grace was quietly being sung. "His grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home."

If I'd had the time, I would have pulled off the shoulder and just stared in awe at God's handiwork. However, part of working is being on time, and so I snuck peeks at the sunrise while I drove.

I got to school on time. I photocopied papers for the day, placed the chairs neatly around the table, sharpened pencils, and moved our little Elf on the Shelf. All normal things, yet, all things that I knew I was doing for the last time.

We had our Christmas party. A party that was chaotic, full of sugar, and carefully watched by my amazing room mom. And then as suddenly as this job was thrust upon me, it ended. I watched the last of my kids leave the building. Wishing them a Merry Christmas, and also a good school year.

Six weeks wasn't long enough. It's hard to fall in love with something only to have it ripped away from you. It's hard to realize that what was once painful, actually taught so much and brought much joy.

As the end of my six weeks teaching kindergarten stared me in the face, I tried as hard as I could to be excited for whatever would come next. However, faking excitement is hard. All I really wanted was for the principal to offer me a position. I wanted to continue to teach these 19 kids that I have fallen in love with.

Teaching is hard. When week number one of this placement ended I complained to Damarise and asked her what I was thinking to take this job. The first three weeks were torturous. I was simply trying to stay afloat. I pulled out old text books on classroom management. I scoured the internet for ways to have smooth transitions, good incentives, and quiet hallway behaviour. And I cried every day on the way home from school. I cried because I didn't know what else to do. I was stressed, tired, and seemed to be constantly sick with a cold, fever, or cough.

However, something happened. I began to feel a part of the school community. I could laugh and joke with my teammates. I was observed by the principal and given good insight into what I can improve. Though there were hard days, God's grace became all the more real, and you know what? You learn a lot more when every day you deal with something new or are put into a hard situation that you never planned on.

I turned twenty-two during this teaching placement. And for once in my life I actually felt older. I felt like a grown-up. I had a "full-time" job with real co-workers who were becoming friends. I had a schedule which I loved. I had work to take home and lessons to plan over the weekend. I learned 19 students names, but not only their names, I learned their likes and dislikes. I learned who needs extra persistence in order to get work done. I learned that humor is a gift from God that can dispel fights, or lighten any situation. I learned that I can sing in public and that the more you get into it the more fun it will be. And I learned that when I open up my heart to absorb everything around me and fully dive in, it hurts all the more when it's time to leave.

Those who know me well will know that Kindergarten is not my cup of tea. However, maybe my cup of tea has changed. And maybe it took 19 precious little kindergarteners to do it. Because when I said goodbye to them and drove home with a lump in my throat and no words to describe the heartache I felt, all I wanted to do was teach Kindergarten again.

God provides. I've learned that. I've seen Him provide in marvelous ways. But when He gave me this job in my lap, at a school I didn't even know existed, I questioned His providence. I questioned His goodness. I wondered why He'd give me a job in a grade that I'd never wanted to teach. I wondered why He gave me a job with such a long drive. And I wondered if I could quit.

It took me a while to realize how this job was full of unexpected blessings. How the long drive every morning wasn't a waste of gas, but was decorated in beautiful sunrises reminding me that God's faithfulness is new every morning. How the kids weren't terrible, but showed me how everyone is in need of God's mercy and forgiveness. How I wasn't as good and kind as I thought, but was reminded every day that I need God's help to love each child and to treat everyone fairly. How I can never ever do anything on my own, but God provides resources in wonderful mentor teachers who guide me in how to teach well.

And so that sunrise on my last morning into work. The one that rose crimson red and showered the trees in a fiery light, the one that rose while Sufjan quietly sang, "His grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home." That sunrise reminded me of how wonderful God is. That sunrise reminded me of how God's grace provided for this job. It reminded me of the joy and hardship that this teaching position has brought and how it has molded me more into His image. It reminded me of the kids whose lives I got to be a part of who I only hope learned what I tried to teach. It reminded me that even when I think something is terrible, God has a plan, and I need only trust Him, because in the end, when I look back and see what the six weeks were like from hindsight, I feel blessed. I feel honoured that God have me this job. And I feel sad, because when it was all said and done, I loved it and I will miss it!

Schools are now in Christmas break and I am headed to Missouri to spend a week with family. I've applied for another long term sub position at another school, and will continue to sub when I get back home. However, if you (whoever still reads this) think of it, I'd appreciated prayer for another teaching opportunity. I know God will work everything out and as sure as the sun rises every morning, so His faithfulness is firm and steady. And in that I give thanks. 

1 comment:

Jason Channell said...

Hannah,

I'd love to chat about you writing some articles for Joshua Expeditions blog. When you have a chance,please give me a holler. Thanks!

jason(at)theinfiniteagency.com