Anxiety, my old friend!

No….I want new companions. I’m sick and tired of flirting with dysfunctional thinking.  Isn’t that what ‘renewing our minds’ is all about?  Aren’t we new creations?  Where’s that daily bread of “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me!”?

Welcome back to the first week of school. I was excited all summer, riding the crest of free time and still basking in the completion of a surprising good year.

Yet here I am again, at the start of my 20th year of teaching French, fighting feelings of inadequacy.  I don’t understand.  I can only chalk it up to God’s decision that for this stage of sanctification, I still need to remember every 15 minutes that He is my only source of confidence.  But I would like to FEEL competent. I would like to know that I can do this French-teacher thing.

If you know me via this blog or in person, you know that I teach French via a method that is intuitive, creative, student-affirming and effective (TPRS™ – Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling). But it’s hard!  No hiding behind a text book or worksheets.  I compare it to being a stand-up comedienne who depends on a good audience to feed her energy and material in such a way that a symbiotic relationship develops that is satisfying to all.  When it’s good, it’s very, very good.  But when there is no energy in the room, or when I, the comedienne/teacher don’t read the students well and go too fast or jump around, it’s discouraging to me (and probably confusing to them!)

I take their learning and progress, their enjoyment and confidence very personally because I am always comparing myself to the ‘experts’ in my field. These are the ones I watch at conferences and those whose advice and experiences I read daily.

Okay, enough of my professional woes.  I want to share with you how I am talking to myself.  The Bible gives us the example of David, “…who encouraged himself in the Lord” – 1 Sam 30:6.  What a great line. While living in Ziklag, an outpost in the boondocks, with his band of men and their families the Amalekites had attacked.  Women, children and livestock were carted away while David and his men were serving with the Philistines.  We learn of David’s reaction as he and the men discover the sacking of their families.

How dire was David’s situation?  Very! Not only had his wives and kids been kidnapped by the nasty Amalekites, his men turned to stone him, their leader. It was he they blamed.   David’s faith is tested and his reaction is amazing!  Faith is vindicated.  His reaction is worthy of emulating.  No time for a pity-party.

Yet I do believe that David was no Pollyanna.  If he ‘encouraged’ himself, that is because he was fighting internal discouragement and fear, just like we do.

Life is challenging and overwhelming at times. We get down, but we are not meant to stay there!  What we say to ourselves can really make a difference.

Last Sunday, our pastor was talking about the joy of an assurance of faith and of belonging to Christ.  This is our birth-right as born-again, regenerated children of God.  But we have to rehearse to ourselves the truth of the blessings that come with this new life in Christ. (As one of my students taught me in Latin, repetitio est mater studiorum – thank you Carter Moonis!)

What is our birthright as believers?  These 3 gifts:

  • ·         Forgiveness of our sins.  This is HUGE.  We are born into a world where the wrath of God is on us from the beginning.  Without Christ’s work on the cross, we would have to face God in our sins.  (if you don’t think your sins are bad, try ‘rebellion’ on for size – that heads the list)
  • ·         An assured future with Jesus: We were created to enjoy glorifying God.  Doing so forever will be unbelievably satisfying. (Collect the best moments of your life and multiply them by some gigantic mathematical number)
  • ·         Understanding the big picture:  Call this worldview or the meaning of life.  It’s about understanding and knowing why we were born and our life’s purpose. As Christians, we are equipped with an explanation for suffering (the fall and resulting sin).  But we are equally blessed, living with the assurance that there WILL BE ultimate justice, that all wrongs will be righted in the end.  (Spoiler alert – read the Book of Revelation)

Sooo?  How does that help with our anxieties today?    How does remembering our birthright make a difference in the gritty trenches? Maybe it’s just about relaxing, continually talking to God and giving things over to Him as we do our daily work with the strength and wisdom He provides.  In, around and through that work, we are to practice contentment with His gifts and love others to the best of ability.

And my French classes?  Well, I have to remember that I’ve gotten into the groove in the past; most likely I will again this year.  And before I know it, I will be blogging in May about what a great year I had.  But you can still pray for me!