I heard the air compressor in the garage the other day, and I think it’s because one of my husband’s truck tires has a slow leak. It’s almost imperceptible, until one day he notices the tire is low.
I have one of those in my classroom sometimes -a slow leak that doesn’t seem like anything, until I get home and wonder why I feel discouraged. It’s the sound of sighing when I announce the next bit of work we’re going to do or when I ask students to go get a textbook.
When students sigh, my heart shrinks in discouragement.
Because sighing communicates a state of mind and an attitude of the heart.
But this blog post isn’t a lecture against my students. It’s for me. I sigh a lot. Matthew will hear me sigh from across the house (it’s that loud) and say to me, What was that for?
Sighing comes from discouragement and anxiety, from laziness and fatigue, from sorrow and pain.
But twice we find the prophet Isaiah repeating an intriguing phrase, as he describes a special highway of Holiness that is free of danger, and only the redeemed will walk there. In Isaiah 35:10 (NIV) it says:
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Sighing will flee away.
I would like to contrast this some-day verse with Paul’s command to the believers in Philippians 2:14 (NIV):
Do everything without complaining or arguing.
The Lord acknowledges that life on this earth is hard and dangerous, and he promises someday there will be zero need for sighing. Yet, at the same time, we are supposed to do everything without sighing, at least the form of sighing that really is a nonverbal form of griping.
Sometimes my students exhale loudly because something is hard and frustrating, like after I taught them reflexive verbs in Spanish a few days ago. I did not mind hearing the breath come hard from their lungs over that challenging work.
But that’s different than the “I don’t want to work anymore” or the “I’m bored” or the “What’s the point?” sighs.
One thing I’ve noticed about myself is that sometimes I’ll sigh about going to work, but when my students enter the room I turn that off. I am responsible for bringing energy and enthusiasm to the room. It would be unprofessional for me to sigh my way through the afternoon.
I purposefully change my behavior because of what I believe about work ethic.
Which means sighing is often behavior that stems from what we are choosing to believe in the moment.
So I am confronting the sighing in my classroom. I’m calling it complaining and am saying, Stop. No complaining. Because complaining is demoralizing to me and to everyone else in the room. In its place there should be, at the very least, a determination to accept the work and, at the most, a contagious enthusiasm.
What if you and I work to kick the habit of sighing in complaint and slowly labor to build a habit of enthusiasm and joy? I think if we followers of Christ will do this, it will be a way to share our faith in Christ at work, and it’s a way for students to share their faith at school.
We’ll be saying to everyone:
Good news! Someday NO SIGHING, if you know Jesus. See how that new life is already starting in me?
People will wonder what’s different about us, don’t you think? Maybe they’ll ask, and we can tell them.
NOTE: I wrote this entire post and published it, before I realized I unconsciously stole the idea from my dear friend,Lisa, at Club 31 Women. You should read her post that inspired me.