Listening to My Life

Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.

I need the truth of this quote today.  Boredom was last week.  I was stuck in my classroom alone, grading papers or lesson planning and I couldn’t wait to get back to teaching.  Pain is this week.  As if to say “Well, here’s what you asked for,” the last few days have been unusually tough, frustrating, at times heart-breaking. I have those flickers of doubt when I wonder if I’m really cut out for this job.  I’m used to days going smoothly and contentedly, with a few difficult moments scattered across the landscape.  It’s when the scenario is flipped around and the whole day feels like one long and torturous obstacle course, with only small and occasional flickers of joy, that I start to unravel.  My reserves of strength and creativity seem to dry up completely and merely going through the motions feels like a Herculean task.  It’s a gut-punched feeling for someone who normally eats, sleeps, and breathes teaching.  As Regina Spektor sings, “It’s like forgetting the words to your favorite song.  You can’t believe it—you were always singing along.  It was so easy, and the words so sweet.  You can’t remember; you try to feel the beat.”

In this way, I remain dependent on grace.  I get a little too proud of two degrees and nearly a decade of experience.  I receive an accolade and think, “Yeah, that’s me.”  And then I’m suddenly reminded that I’m still a foolish, broken, sinful person who fails with frequency and gusto.  Appearances lie.  The reality is that I never will have it all together.  The great truth is that I don’t need to have it all together.  I need God’s grace, and so do my students.

Life, the “fathomless mystery that it is,” will always be painful and boring and difficult, but it will never be unimportant, and it will never ever be unredeemable.

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