Sunday, March 27, 2011

Love is a Presence (and still a worthy cause)

Wish I could say that title was of my own invention, but sadly (for me), no. I stole the "love is a presence" from Andi Ashworth (see yesterday's post). She asked of us this question:
Where is your weariness factor on a scale of 1 to 10? Where and how do you need care? In the area of self-care, what is nourishing to you and fills your tank? Thinking of mind, body, and spirit, what practices do you have in place already? Is this an area you need to develop more?
Great question, huh? I love the Imago Women's Forums for that reason: you always get refreshed and challenged at the same time. I'll take on the first part of that question for now.
Where is your weariness factor on a scale of 1 to 10? If you'd asked me last Friday (the 18th), I would have just looked at you for a second, and then broken down into a big weepy mess right on the floor of the classroom. I actually asked my teaching partner if he would do me the huge favor of running homework club that day, because I literally felt too tired to stand up. He graciously agreed, and I spent the next hour in a feverish half-sleep curled up on the couch in our "faculty lounge" (i.e. junk basement). I couldn't handle it anymore. I was at a 10, for sure. It had been a rotten week in terms of feeling unneeded, unloved, and generally disregarded by my students. Most of them were coming to class unprepared. I actually teared up about it one day and said, "I don't know what to do. If you don't come prepared, how can I do my job?" They looked sheepish, but then the next day, same story. That's been the story of the year, and I was/am sick of it.
Thankfully, spring break was very refreshing. My awesome cousin (and Ruby's godmother) Chandra came out from the other Portland (in Maine) to see us for almost a week. Sometimes having visitors can be draining, but this visit was anything but. We did some touristy things, but we also did a whole lot of relaxing. I haven't checked in with Chandra about it, so I suppose she could have been bored during those mornings where we just lounged around. But I think she was okay with it. It was really nice to sleep in (as much as a baby permits) and just chill. I didn't think about school much until Friday. I spent Friday at school, cleaning, organizing, and doing stuff that I had been putting off. So, after break, I'd say my weariness level is at about a 3 or 4. Not bad.
But I have to go back tomorrow, and I am afraid the weariness level will spike. Only about 10 of 45 kids had accomplished the project they had 11 weeks to do (memorize the Gettysburg Address) as of Friday when it was due. They all swore up and down that they would be ready when we got back, but I must say I am skeptical...at best. It's hard not to check out and just give up on it. I have had many days where I think, "This isn't going anywhere. I'm not accomplishing anything. I don't see change in them. I see the same resistance and laissez-faire attitude I've seen all along." I know that isn't true, but it feels like it, a LOT. A friend recommended that I pray for God to give me a little glimpse of something good to act as an encouragement to me that it's worth it. "Sometimes our faith needs to be perked up a bit by having something to see," she said, and I think that's true. It's worth asking...
That leads me to the second part of my title, "Love is Still a Worthy Cause", which is a song by the lovely and prophetic Sara Groves. These are the lyrics:

Have you listed all the times you've tried
Do you call on all your alibis
When somebody asks the question why are you hiding

did you feel the pull, did you hear the call
did you take a chance and lose it all
do you fear there's no collateral left for trying

Friend, I know your heart is raw
But love is still a worthy cause
Picking up and pressing on
Oh, love is still a worthy cause
Like the touch that starts the thaw
Oh, love is still a worthy cause
or the word that breaks the pause
Love

in the midst of passing bravery
in the face of our own injury
It's the constant generosity of grace

It's the beauty in the tales we tell
It's the pressing on and ending well
and the joy that comes when we give ourselves away

I love because he loved me
when I had nothing
I love because you loved me
when I had nothing
I love because you loved me
when I had nothing

Even though your heart is raw
But love is such a worthy cause
Picking up and pressing on
Oh, love is still a worthy cause
Like the touch that starts the thaw
Oh, love is still a worthy cause
or the word that breaks the pause
Love
(you can listen to it here)
That song has gotten me through many, many a hard day in my teaching career, so it looks like it's time to pull it out again.

Back to the questions: Where and how do you need care? I feel desperately in need of some words of affirmation. It's one of my 5 love languages (if you've read this, you will know what I'm talking about.) My husband does a great job of affirming and encouraging me, but I'd like to be affirmed by people that I work for and with. I'd like to hear nice things from the parents of my students and from the students themselves. Of course, middle schoolers are developmentally in a similar stage to that of a two year old: very self-absorbed because they are trying to figure out their identity and place in the world. It doesn't leave them much time to (a) do homework or (b) appreciate adults in their lives. But it would be nice, nonetheless. And it would be nice to hear from their parents some recognition for what I do. I'll try to remember to do that a lot for my kids' teachers.
One last thing I will think about for now from those questions: In the area of self-care, what is nourishing to you and fills your tank? I've never been one for bubble baths, but I recently rediscovered candles. We have tons of them, and a few days ago on a whim I got them all out and put them in one place on a windowsill and lit them all up. Since they're all scented, it was a nice melange of smells and the flickering lights lit up the dark room very nicely. The other day I decluttered all the countertop spaces in our bedroom and arranged the candles on it. It has been very pleasant to light some or all of them and just smell their scent and rest in their soft light. I'll have to think about other things are nice to do. Andi suggested that we start small; just choose small things that energize or soothe us. For her, it's listening to Nat King Cole when she works in the kitchen. I tend to listen to NPR in the kitchen, but that can be very depressing. Maybe I need to branch out. I've been craving St. Matthew Passion by Bach (I know, I'm a Johnnie nerd), probably because it is going to be Easter soon. I know that sitting down to an intentional meal with Allen is another thing I like to do. We rarely do that anymore. Life's just been too frazzled. Maybe that's something to shoot for once a week...actually sitting down in chairs at a table at the same time to eat something. It's a start! We want that for our family, but right now...yeah. It's not happening much.
One day at a time, right? Of course right.

3 comments:

  1. You got guts, Jenny.

    Pickin' up and pressin' on.

    ReplyDelete
  2. FIRST of all, YES, my vacation was lovely. I, too, am all about some lounging around do-nothing time on vacation, so no, no boredom. Loved you, Allen, and Ruby, and all the amazing awesomeness we did and didn't do.

    So excited that you've started a blog! (I meeean, one of us should...)

    :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yay, my first comments, from two awesomesocks people!

    ReplyDelete