Out of Place Series – Christina’s Story
It was a Thursday, only six weeks ago as I type this, but it feels more like several years have passed. Sitting in a teacher training seminar after school that day, I should have been all ears and fully invested. As a reading teacher, spending a few hours learning about optimal literacy practices would typically bring me joy. But that afternoon, I couldn’t listen to the presenter at all. My mind was on the news. Every time a new alert popped up on my phone I felt another pang of uncertainty and anxiousness.
I turned to my colleague sitting next to me, “Did you see? Disney World is shutting down!” She whispered back, “It’s crazy. The NBA just announced they’re cancelling their season. My family lives and breathes basketball. This has never happened before. What’s next?”
In a few short hours, we found out what was next for us–our school district, as well as every other district in our state, would be shutting down for the next three weeks to slow the spread and mitigate the dangers of the Coronavirus pandemic. Many other states would soon follow suit, and in time, the three weeks turned to three months as governors across the nation announced that school buildings would be shuttered until at least the end of the school year.
Those first few weeks were so…weird. I didn’t know what to do. I missed my students. I missed my routine. There were no immediate guidelines and there was certainly no precedent to follow. None of us had ever navigated life through a global pandemic before, not only as teachers but just as human beings. What are the rules? What do we do? There were a lot of questions but not a lot of answers.
I sent a message in a co-worker group text thread that said “I feel so inadequate right now. Not being a regular classroom teacher, I feel so disconnected from my students and their families.”
Another teacher said, “I’m struggling with all of this.”
Another said, “I am worried about my husband who is a front line worker.”
Another said, “I worry about meeting the academic needs of my own child with special needs.”
Another said, “I worry about the students whose families I haven’t been able to reach.”
We all experienced different challenges, and we all felt out of sorts. To be honest, sure, I loved the newfound time at home with my own family, but all that was routine to me was gone. I was happy to be home but out of place without my profession in its typical setting. It was all so wonky.
And you know what helped? Honoring the wonky. Admitting that it was weird. Saying that it all made me sad. During this season, as well as any other seasons in life where I have felt uncertain, insecure, or questioning my place, the best thing I could do is simply let myself feel and not be afraid to admit it and create a dialogue about it.
Clinging to God’s Promises
The thing is, we are not promised easy. We were never promised a life full of roses with zero thorns. There is no vaccine that will keep all bad things away from us, regardless of the size of our faith, bank accounts, or positive outlooks. We are actually told point blank in scripture, “In this world you will have trouble.” It’s pretty clear. Trouble will arise. Feeling out of place, scared, and upset–that will arise too. But THE VERSE DOESN’T END THERE.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33 (NIV)
An exclamation mark is used as a tool to express excitement, astonishment, or other feelings of strong emotions. Jesus tells us in the face of adversity to take heart! This is big! He has overcome the world! And He is on our side. He is rooting for us. He is weeping with us in our sorrow and celebrating with us in our wins (even if our biggest win today is that we remembered to shower). He faced trials himself that allow him to relate to us. But he overcame them and is offering us that same strength to lean on in our times of distress.
It helped me to remember this, and to remember that no matter where we are–in a classroom, in our living rooms, in a boardroom, in a grocery store–God is for us. He is not against us, He does not want bad things to happen to us but the fact is we live in an imperfect world, and we are all subject to those imperfections. Thankfully, my favorite verse of all time serves as a powerful reminder in times of trouble:
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11
The world will hand us trouble, but God offers us hope and a future. What a gift!
Before this current season, I have faced various levels of trauma, loss, and deep grief. I know first-hand that the world is not always good. I also know it’s okay–more than okay actually– to honor our feelings of sadness and frustration, to talk about things candidly and be disappointed when everything changes. But I also know that in the middle of hard times we can cling to hope and the promise that this hard season will not last forever.
We may feel out of sorts and like we aren’t where we belong, but we have a place where we can always always find rest, and that is in the unchanging, unshakable promises of God.
If you’ve ever felt like you don’t belong, this series is for you! Every Monday, we’ll hear from someone who has also struggled to belong. Be sure to subscribe below to get The Scoop so you never miss a post! As a thank you, you’ll receive access to belonging-themed scripture cards and adult coloring pages in the free for you library!
Christina Herr is an educator, writer, speaker, and Women’s Ministry Leader who loves to help others embrace their worth and find beauty in the chaos of life. In her spare time, you might find her reading, running, indulging in dark chocolate, crying over episodes of This is Us, or laughing over episodes of Friends. She lives in Michigan with her husband, Chris, their three children, and two dogs, Zelda and Xena. Connect with her on Facebook or at her website, www.christinaherr.com.