It has been a very full summer. Between house projects, backpacking trips, climbing Mt. St. Helens (and getting in shape to do that!), I have been busily ignoring the fact that I return to school in a very short amount of time. My first year of teaching was exciting, wonderful, and hard at the same time. I'll be quite honest, there were moments that I didn't love it like I had expected. There were moments that were very difficult and left me feeling like I had completely chosen the wrong career. But I think that is normal.
So, this summer I have been intentionally working on where I focus when life gets hard. I have been trying to change my thought process in the moments I feel like throwing in the towel, giving up. Rather than tearing myself apart and telling myself I can't do it - rather than focusing on the thing in front of me that is hard, I want to focus on the fact that I can get through it; I can succeed.
I want to overhaul the words I whisper to myself when I'm down and no one else is looking.
My husband and I enjoy backpacking together. There is something exhilarating about throwing everything needed to survive (and some extras!) into a backpack and hitting the trail. It feels like every time we go into the wilderness, we push a little further, climb a little higher, hike a little faster. We've only been doing this a few years, but we love it. It's our place of rest (ironically).
There are times, though, when my pack feels oh-so-heavy, when my legs feel as though they have been cast in lead, and when my mind berates me for being so weak. Each step seems to trigger an echoing chant in my mind, "You can't do this..." It is hard to climb the mountain sometimes. But you know, I've not ever had to turn around. I have always done the hard thing on the trail, and found that I could. Sometimes, yes, I do need to stop and have some water, rest a little more frequently, or have a quick bite to eat to replenish some energy stores, but, I make it though and see the beauty that was waiting.
This summer, I started changing those words - creating a different echo in my mind: "This is hard, but I know can do this."
And you know what? It worked... but then I realized I wasn't whispering the whole story.
I have been reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. As the new school year approaches, I have started to worry about the work load, about the pressure and intensity of the days to come. But then, I read this on page 148:
Without trust in the good news of Jesus, without trust in the good news of God's saving work even in this moment, without an active, moment-by-moment trust in the good news of an all-sovereign, all-good God, how can we claim to fully believe?
I realized that I'm not fully trusting God in the moment-by-moment grind of life when my heart becomes consumed by the stress. I need to change my words again. When things get hard this year, and I feel the anxiousness and the feelings of inadequacy creep in and start whispering words of discouragement in my mind, and when my heart begins to fear, I need to remember God's words in Joshua 1:9.
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
My confidence is not in me and my abilities, but in the One who has called me to serve. My strength is not in myself, but rooted in the strength of the One who stretched out the heavens. I am able because He is able.
The weeks that lie ahead of me are going to be challenging. I know this. But, I also know that I can do it because I do not walk alone.
Be strong and courageous.