The school bell rang. The students entered and quickly found their seats. I stood at the front of the class, fidgeting nervously in my “grown-up” clothes. I was smiling in an attempt to calm my nerves, which flashed the silver wire across my teeth. My retainer might as well have been a neon sign saying, “I’m way too young to be teaching.” It was my first day as a high school teacher.
I was 19 years old.
Who hired this young, very green, brand spanking new teacher? A public high school in California, that’s who.
In those early days of teaching, I was nervous, excited, aiming to please and wanting to make a difference. I dreamed of being a “movie worthy” teacher who helped her students achieve greatness. Those dreams were squelched quickly thanks to the computer program that created class schedules. I’m convinced there is a special algorithm for new teachers, one that will test his or her capacity and sanity with the toughest of classes.
I worked hard that semester. Some days were incredible and I was over the moon. Other days it seemed like torture and I felt my age. Some of my students were only two years younger than me. Oh the stories I have to tell!
I chuckle at the thought of a 19-year-old teaching high school now. I can’t believe I was hired, that I survived and that I continued to teach after that first semester. Some will say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” I am not sure that’s true. I often find myself in circumstances that seem much bigger than me and I feel once again the mix of emotions and questions that my 19-year-old self experienced long ago. Thankfully, the retainer is no longer a dead giveaway for my lack of experience in a new situation.
How did I survive my first semester of teaching? It helped that I kept showing up, but the main reason was God. He was so faithful through it all.
One of the benefits of getting older is that the list of ways God has proven His faithfulness grows longer and longer. Despite my stubbornness and my sinfulness, He remains faithful. I’ve also discovered, unfortunately, that the stress and challenges don’t seem to go away with age; they seem to multiply. Yet, so does the evidence of how reliable, unwavering, steadfast God is. He was steadfast in my early days of teaching. He was unwavering when He nudged my heart to leave my career and study theology. He was faithful when He practically pushed me overseas to work with people I never thought I could serve adequately. God’s faithfulness is the reason we can face situations that are much more than we can handle. He is enough when we are not.
This season of giving thanks merits a moment to celebrate how constant, how gracious, how good, how faithful God has been. No matter what He keeps showing up. Despite our current highs or lows, He keeps on fighting for us, pursuing us, revealing His faithful love.
Today, I choose to “bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1).
Will you join me? How has God been faithful to you this year?