Tuesday, July 31, 2012

INSPIRATION: Strong Enough

Sometimes I feel as if God thinks I have unlimited strength. Or patience, or willpower, or discipline, or compassion, or mercy, or humility. For those who know me, it is no secret that this past year was difficult on many different levels - professionally, personally and spiritually.

My second year as a principal was challenging. Changing a building or a textbook, a website or a schedule is easy. Changing a culture, though, is not.

My wife's second pregnancy, while much improved, has taken a toll on me. Her extreme sickness during the first half of the pregnancy taxed me in ways that I didn't think were possible. My schedule for those weeks was grueling. Emotionally, I was a wreck. Spiritually, I was drowning. Issues at school seemed to be coming at a frantic pace. Looking back on it, I'm not quite sure how I was able to make it through (and I'm sure that some would argue whether or not I really did make it through).

After revealing some of these struggles in an April post, a friend texted words from a WWII poster in Great Britain, "Keep calm and carry on." My brother shared with me the story of codfish (who are actually made stronger by fighting with catfish - http://arloasutter.blogspot.com/2007/08/why-we-need-adversaries.html).

And, somehow, it's August 1. I have a million things to complete before our teachers report next Thursday August 9 and at least double that before students report on August 20. I can't sleep. I can't seem to find peace in my prayer life. I haven't consistently exercised since June. Thoughts creep into my head that I'm not strong enough, that there is no way everything will get done. There is no way I'll be able to do all that is expected of me.

Luckily for me, I don't do it alone. Not only has the Lord blessed me with a wonderful "cloud of witnesses" in my family, my colleagues, my friends and my mentors, but He has also given me His grace.

Teaching (and I take liberty to include myself in this profession even though I'm a principal) is the most important profession in the world. Teachers, with each student who passes through their classrooms, are shaping our future. They are responsible for the formation of other humans. They affect eternity. As such, teaching can become incredibly taxing. The weight of lesson plans, angry parents, demanding administrators, energetic students, and assembly period schedules (when you miss your 3rd period English class for the 5th Monday in a row!) can crumble us to our knees. Add to that any sort of personal struggle (the bank closing before you've left the building, a fight with a loved one, a sick child, etc.) and the mountain can seem insurmountable.

But with God's grace, all things are possible. St. John Baptist de La Salle, the patron saint of teachers, urges teachers,
"Be satisfied with what you can do, since God is satisfied with it, but do not spare yourself in what you can do with grace; and believe that, provided you want it, you can do more with the grace of God than you think."   
With God's grace, we don't have to be strong enough because He already is- strong enough for both of us, for all of us, for anything.

Keep calm and carry on. It's just another catfish.