Today is your day.
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
~ Dr. Seuss
We are all familiar with the exciting and encouraging opening lines of Oh the Places You’ll Go. I read it the night before going off to college, full of confidence, ready to start my life, excited to see where my brains and my feet would take me.
About a week ago, I re-read this book looking for that same exciting sense of optimism. Instead found myself, five years later, relating more than I would like to admit to these lines,
When you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
is not easily done.
At one point or another, we all find ourselves in a season of life where we would rather not be. Feelings of helpless settle in. We fall into the “Slump.” We feel stuck.
How do we change that? How do we un-stick ourselves? Are we supposed to start over, or push through? Try more things, or focus on only one? Take a step backward, or sprint to the end?
No clue! Still trying to figure that out. All I know is that stuck sucks.
Growing up, my parents always made me finish what I started. It was a lesson so ingrained into my personality that I still hold myself to it. It is one of the reasons there is a college degree hanging on my wall. More recently, it was the only way this past year was tolerated in my role as a substitute teacher.
After graduation I moved to Savannah with a friend, and having no plan, I did what English majors are suppose to do. I taught. Turns out there is more to teaching than reading books, analyzing and researching about said books, and then writing papers on those same books.
Sidebar here—Teaching is a more than laudable profession. Teachers are amazing! I have nothing but the highest respect for what they do. What they can accomplish, within the strict confines of the educational system, is nothing short of a magic trick that would make Houdini blush.
This experience through trial and ever so much error, revealed that I was not made to be a teacher. This revelation came in November. There were seven months left to that school year. I gritted my teeth, powered through the end of the year, and tried not to vent my rage at innocent bystanders who asked me how work was going.
In my experience, a substitute teacher, in most cases, is the human equivalent of a cardboard cutout and has just about as much influence. So there I was, a college-educated woman in her early 20s with nothing but the horizon in front of her…. and I really mean nothing. When you are in a season you hate, it is easy to feel like you are going nowhere fast. Funny thing about the horizon, it keeps moving.
In January I went to a women’s conference with some friends from college. Our study for the weekend was Priscilla Shrier’s, Breathe: Making Room for the Sabbath. While we often think about the Sabbath being Sunday, her study takes you through the Sabbath principle of respecting and actively implementing the practice of rest, margin, and space into our busy lives. [I highly recommend it!]
One problem. This has been one of the least busy years of my life. Some of the cool things about subbing are that school holidays equal days off, there are frequent half-day assignments, and no work to bring home. I also live in a town where I know only one person and the nature of my job does not exactly give me many opportunities to build relationships. So, this year free time was in abundance—too much free time. Initially, Shrier’s Bible study did not seem like it applied to me in this particularly lethargic season of life, but I kept with it, I had started it after all.
And then God did what He does. The study was about pausing. I felt like I had that part down and I was ready for the next thing. If you have attempted yoga you will know what I mean. You are doing the “standing thing” or the “butterfly thing” and your instructor tells you to close your eyes. After what feels like an eternity, (usually it’s about 40 seconds) you peak an eye open to see what’s coming next, and usually it is…oh goodie…more sitting. This whole year I have been ready for the next pose, the next thing, and God has said, wait.
Here is what has taken me an entire year to learn. Being still is not the same as being stuck.
Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10)
Then Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Months, maybe years, from now I am going to read back over this and think, “what psychopath complains about free time!?” I certainly hope so. The school year is over, my lease ends in a month, and I am moving home. I have finished what I started. In the immortal words of Monty Python, “and now for something completely different.”
I don’t know what comes next, if it is going to be busy or if it will be another year of waiting. Whatever it is, I’m ready to see where God, my brains, and my feet carry me next. Oh the places we will go.