Don't Lose Heart
As we press on into the 6-month mark of living during a global pandemic, I’ve found myself listening to many who are beginning to lose heart. The mom who is struggling with preschoolers and school schedules, the teen who is disappointed with a lackluster senior year, the adult struggling to work remotely, the person at risk who misses being with others. It’s been a struggle for many to not lose heart, and their stories reminded me of some advice given to me from a Christian friend years ago on how to overcome the sense of being overwhelmed.
The second month into my first teaching job, I can remember sitting at my desk, staring up at the tiled ceiling feeling completely overwhelmed by the statistics running through my head. Of my classroom of thirty-one first graders, five of them were children of migrant workers who did not speak a single word of English, twenty-nine of them had qualified for free lunches, eighteen of them were from broken homes, two of them had lost a parent in the past six months, and one of them was a survivor of sexual abuse so unspeakable it still makes me cry even thinking about him twenty years later.
How could I possibly make any sort of difference, I thought. Not only was I just one person, but I was keenly aware of how “green” I was, how much I didn’t know, how useless I felt. The reality was that even as an honors graduate, four years of college did not prepare me for the depth of the need that I now faced among my six and seven-year-old students in that rural American classroom.
I was having a pretty good pity-party for myself when Brenda walked into my room and saw me there with mascara-stained tears running down my face. She was the seasoned teacher a few doors down from me, a sister in Christ, who had my respect and admiration. She was doing it – making a difference, I thought. There I was burned out after just two months in the classroom, while she had logged over two decades of dedicated service. I asked her what her secret was.
She smiled at me with compassion in her eyes and said, “I have come to accept it is not my job to fix their lives, but help them in their brokenness. Each day they come in and I ask, God, what do you want me to do for this child today? And I do my best to respond to that need one child at a time, one day at a time. I recognize I don’t have the power to change their situations, but God will direct me in daily obedience if I allow Him. I focus on what I CAN do with God’s help, rather than what I can’t. Start focusing on what you can do.”
Sometimes when we are faced with a challenge, we can become so overwhelmed that we don’t even know where we should begin. We fixate on the enormity of the problem, and become stuck, often opting to do nothing because we can’t fix it or change it. However, if we shift our focus from our situation and instead focus on God and the enormity of His love and His Wisdom, it can help bring clarity. God will direct us in what we can and should do.
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.