God and I are a bit on the outs these days. Last Saturday night, I went to bed without setting my alarm for church. On purpose. I was mad at God, so I decided I didn’t really feel like going to His house to sing His songs and listen to His words. “If I’m meant to go to church,” I said to myself, “then I’m sure I’ll manage to wake up at the right time without any alarm at all.” I fell asleep late and decided to just let whatever happened happen. Which really means I decided to sleep through church.
I woke at the exact time my alarm would have woken me.
I lay in bed for about 20 minutes – time I would normally have spent snoozing the alarm anyway – internally debating.
Clearly God wants me at church.
Maybe it was just coincidence.
Yeah, but either way I’m up now, so I really should go.
But I’m still tired and I want to sleep.
In the end, even though it was difficult, I had to own up and be honest with myself.
I don’t want to go. I’m awake, I have no other legitimate demands on my time, but I’m still not going to go. I am deliberately choosing to stay home instead of going to church, just because I don’t want to go.
Basically, I was giving God the silent treatment.
I tried to go back to sleep, and I did doze a little, but mostly I tossed and turned for close to three hours in a fitful attempt at rest. It was that sleep where you’re not quite awake, so you can’t just get up and go about your day, but you’re also not quite asleep, so you’re getting no actual rest. The kind of sleep where ultimately you wake up more tired than you were before. I’m still not sure whether it was God making a point or just my guilty conscience. At the time, though, I blamed God, since I was already mad at Him anyway.
It was all very childish sulking on my part, and I realize that. Picture this:
Little Lara is turning 8 years old, and Lara’s Mommy has planned a wonderful party. All of Lara’s friends are coming, and there will be pony rides, and princess cake, and a man making balloon animals, and a bounce house, and a giant slide, and a petting zoo, and an ice skating rink, and a woman who will paint your portrait while you eat ice cream sundaes. Lara’s Mommy also bought Lara a special princess dress, brand new, just for this party, with sparkles and ribbons and flowers and jewels, and a beautiful gold tiara for Lara to wear alld ay so that everyone will know that she is the birthday girl. And Lara’s mommy did all of this because she loves Lara so very much. And on the morning of the party, Lara’s Mommy asks Lara to please take out the kitchen garbage to help Mommy out. And Lara, spoiled brat that she is, throws a fit over being asked to take out the garbage, and she gives Mommy the silent treatment because garbage is yucky and she doesn’t want to do it.
That’s kind of what it’s like with me and God right now: I’m just being ungrateful because I don’t like the chore He’s currently asking me to do. No matter, of course, that He has done all kinds of amazing things for me in the past, and that He has all kinds of amazing things planned for me in the future. I am seriously mad about what He’s doing right now.
Although, to be honest, I’m not entirely convinced that God is the one who gave me this chore at all. Because God didn’t tell me directly – other people told me. So it’s less like Lara’s Mommy asked her to take out the garbage and more like Lara’s siblings came to her and said, “Mom wants you to take out the garbage.” Maybe Lara’s Mommy did say that. But maybe she said something else entirely and Lara’s brothers and sisters heard wrong. Or maybe Lara’s Mommy said nothing at all, and Lara’s siblings heard the wind, which just happened, at that moment, to sound like Mommy’s voice saying, “Lara needs to take out the garbage.” For now, I can only trust them at their word when they say God is the one telling me to do this.
“Do what?” you ask. You need to understand that this entire year, the only thing that kept me going was the knowledge that next year would be better. Sure, this year is killer, but next year things will be different! Next year I can rejoin the dance community! Next year I can join a Bible study at church! Next year I can exercise and eat healthier! Next year I can start attending a therapy group again! Next year I can blog more! Next year I can DATE!
But no. Next year, I will – once again – subjugate my entire life and self to Christian School and its students. Let’s look at some comparisons, shall we?
This Year’s Work Schedule:
* I teach three English classes – two 10th grade and one 11th grade.
* I teach one Ballroom dance class.
* I have two prep periods to lesson plan and/or grade student work.
* I have one Study Hall that I monitor, which is very much like a third prep period.
This Year’s Outside-of-Work Schedule:
* I generally get 6-7 hours of sleep a night. (I function best at around 9.)
* I eat 2-3 meals a day. (They are pretty much always unhealthy.)
* On weeknights, I am either working until bedtime, at a Christian School event, or – occasionally – vegging in front of the TV because I am so brain-burned that I have no mental energy left.
* I am usually able to take Saturdays off work to relax or do laundry, errands, etc.
* I go to church (almost) every Sunday, then to school to work for the rest of the day.
This Year’s Mental/Emotional State:
* There was some depression, but mostly contentment.
* There were almost constant feelings of stress, pressure, and/or anxiety.
* I frequently felt overwhelmed and/or insufficient for the task at hand.
* I depended heavily on the hope that next year’s load would be lighter.
I think it’s important to note that the baseline mental/emotional state for most of the year really wasn’t all that good. It also generally wasn’t too bad, but still – we’d hope for better, right? Keep that in mind as we look ahead to…
Next Year’s Work Schedule:
* I will teach five English classes – three 10th grade and two 11th grade.
* I will teach one Ballroom dance class.
* I will have one prep period to lesson plan and/or grade student work.
* I will have no Study Hall to act as a third period of prep time.
In other words, I’m going from teaching four classes to teaching six, and from three prep periods to only one. Awesome. Let’s use that knowledge to predict…
Next Year’s Outside-of-Work Schedule:
* I’ll probably still get 6-7 hours of sleep a night, with occasional lapses to 4-5. (This is mostly because I literally shut down at a certain point and cannot function without sleep. It just doesn’t work.)
* I’ll still eat 2-3 meals a day. (They’ll still be unhealthy.)
* On weeknights, I will pretty much always be working until bedtime. If I also need to attend a Christian School event, that bedtime will be later than it would have been otherwise.
* I will work pretty much every Saturday.
* I will continue working every Sunday.
Note that my free time is less, not more. Hence all my plans of dancing more, joining a Bible study, getting back to blogging, trying to go on dates, etc. – these are all gone with the wind. And frankly, my dear, no one gives a damn. (Except me.)
Using all that we’ve learned, what do we think will be…
Next Year’s Mental/Emotional State:
* If not outright depression, certainly unhappiness.
* Stress, pressure, and anxiety will become as familiar as breathing.
* Feeling overwhelmed and insufficient will be the norm – feeling even moderately competent will be a rare, treasured moment.
* I will depend heavily on the knowledge that the following year I will A) get an easier load, B) quit, or C) die. (In my current state of mind, any of these would be an improvement.)
The thing is, though, that most of this difficult change comes from the fact that I’ve been spoiled to have only three English classes and a Study Hall this year. Here is, as I’m aware, the schedule of our full-time high school English teachers this year:
* Mrs. A: three English and two History
* Miss B: four English and one elective
* Mrs. C: five English
* Mrs. D: two English and four Religion
* Mr. E: four English and one elective
* Me: three English and one elective, plus Study Hall
You might notice that my schedule there is the easiest (though as of next year it will be the hardest). I don’t understand how they all do it! I spend so much of my time working, and I only have three real classes. What am I missing? I feel like to do my best work, it really does take that much time. Spending less time on it means not doing my best. It means doing mediocre work – work that is “good enough,” but less than my best effort. And I just don’t know if I can do that.
All I do now is that right now, I’m extremely unhappy. And all I can see in my future is a whole lot more unhappiness coming.