I could not blame him for saying out loud that he had some trepidation about Sundays (not something you’d expect to hear from a preacher.) But you don’t know what it was like at our house every Sunday last year –me in my first year of teaching and Mondays coming.
Monday eve (I am so calling it) would always look like me curled in a ball and hyperventilating on the couch.
I loved the teaching, but there were just so many things to be nervous about. You have to admit it’s a scary thing getting up in front of a room full of people very day.
So here I am 10 days out from school starting, and I can feel the old anxiety flipping my stomach.
But I’m reading this book (this is how I start every conversation) called Telling Yourself the Truth, by William Backus and Marie Chapian. These Christian professionals in the mental health field say:
Nobody other than you has the power to make you miserable. That power is yours alone. You make yourself miserable by the things you tell yourself.
Paul says it like this:
Do not be anxious about anything… (Philippians 4:6 NIV)
As if it’s a choice.
Do or do not. The brown shoes or the black shoes? Hoops or studs? Skirt or pants? One or the other.
It’s a choice to say things to myself that are true, good, and bolstering instead of untruthful, trouble-borrowing, and sweat-inducing.
If I’m anxious, it’s because I have chosen to mentally go that direction.
If not anxiety, then what? Paul specifically gives instructions:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything,
by prayer and petition,
present your requests to God.
Here’s what makes me the most anxious about teaching –all the areas where I feel incompetent and unsure of myself. There are things I’m not sure I can do. There are lessons I’m not sure will work. There is behavior in the classroom I haven’t figured out how to address. What if the students don’t like me? What if I mess up and ruin their entire lives?
So the first truth I admit to myself is that I am a good teacher, but I’m lacking in some areas. Knowing the places where I fall short, I can choose to grow an ulcer.
I can pray, which immediately requires me to admit where I lack and ask for help. It puts me in a place of humility, and God gives grace here.
I am thankful for the places where I know I need help as a teacher, because it forces me to rely on God to fill the gaps. And in my weakness he will best show who he is.
I’m digging down to the truth: I’m anxious about the things I can’t control, the things I can’t handle by myself.
The minute I lay flat out on the floor and admit to God how much help I desperately need is the minute I free myself to rest in his control.
God cares. God does miracles. God wants to help me. God wants to be glorified through my life. God knows exactly what I need and describes himself as the provider.
Saying the truth lowers the stomach acid level. I can’t help but think of the Spanish word tranquilo that means calm.
Your turn. What will you tell yourself about your situation today?