Oh boy, have I been going about things the wrong way. After this many decades of living plus having been saved at an early age and reared in church, you'd think I would have figured out the basics of prayer, faith, and trust. If you agree, you'd simply be joining me in being wrong!
I have been pushing Dale, myself, my family, and God Himself all summer to reach one goal: Dale's return to normalcy. I was so set on Dale continuing to improve physically, mentally, and emotionally so that, by summer's end and the start of school, Dale would be "normal" and ready to resume his "normal" life. (Does any soon-to-be eighth grader have a normal life?) It had become my daily routine to keep working and pushing and crying and praying/complaining until my goal was reached. In the process, I had begun questioning God and doubting Him and His ability to know what is best for Dale and our family. I so badly want Dale to fully recuperate, to be able to run again, to walk without any assistance, to speak at a normal cadence, that I forgot how to wait on the Lord and accept His timing and His will. That inward rebellion against God's design was brought to a head this week.
I willingly gave up teaching last year, knowing my son needed me more than any other student did. I knew that, this year, I would not be able to conduct a class full-time until Dale was established in his school routine and keeping up with assignments. And yet, I still grasped for more. I got depressed over the fact that another class took over "my" classroom. I became antsy when I could not make any decisions on my own about decorating a classroom, where to store books, what the class schedule would be, etc. On Friday, I even began to think, "Maybe I should begin storing up things for next year" and "I should decorate this extra room that we may be using for reading circles" when I needed to focus my attention on what the other teacher needed to have done. Part of me was relieved that I didn't have to come up with a classroom theme and decorations or wrestle with lesson plans, and part of me chafed at this new bit in my mouth---assistant teaching---as if I was being cheated out of some authority I thought I deserved. It took my good friend, Mrs. O'Connor, reining me in a bit along with a genuine talk with my oh-so-wise husband to help me regain my perspective for this year. I get to be involved in the school again, at first through an assistant teacher position and, possibly later, through a more hands-on approach. I get to be at school each day, making a difference, however small, in those students' lives. I get to attend weekly staff meetings, help out in a class, and voice my opinion (when asked!). I didn't get to do this last year. And, in previous years, these aforementioned actions were sometimes considered a drudgery to me. God is teaching me to be submissive, patient, thankful, and obedient this year........and always! That which I used to long for a break from---teaching every day all day---I now desire. That which I used to consider my right---voicing my opinion---I now consider a privilege. Each day I will have to remind myself of these newly-remembered lessons from my Father so that I will continue to let His light shine through me and affect others.
My reminders to be thankful, submissive, and obedient apply not only to my ability to teach but also to Dale's healing. In my desire for God to not be done with Dale yet, I became ungrateful for His work in Dale thus far. Last August, we would have been thrilled to have Dale be able to walk with just hand-hold assistance! We would have been ecstatic if Dale could have been able to speak at all! Yet, I find myself impatient and unthankful because Dale can't walk completely on his own, because he stumbles and falls every day, because his speech is slowed. Why? Because these things don't fit into my plan, my life. I have ever been one who loved steadiness, schedule, and definition in my life. I don't like change; I am not one who loves to just "up and do" something. I like to plan ahead as much as possible. (I would have my lesson plans finished months in advance!) Having so much uncertainty this past year has really taught me to wait on God. Having to take each day one step at a time has helped me depend on Him for daily, hourly help and guidance. Obviously, I still have a long way to go to trust Him fully, but I can say with feeling, "I am still trying!" God's plans, though unknown, though different, are best. God's timing, though unpredictable, is best. God's ways are always best. And God's rewards are out of this world!!!
So, we start school on Tuesday, August 28th. Dale will be attending his regular eighth grade classes, joining his classmates for each period, eating lunch in the lunchroom with everyone. I will be as hands-off as possible in order to allow him as much independence as he needs to continue to grow and mature. These first two weeks will really show if Dale is ready to resume regular school life; personally, I think he's more than ready. We'll have to wait six weeks or so to see how Dale will perform academically, and we'll make adjustments if necessary. Since most of the kids in the upper classes (and even the elementary) know about Dale's accident and are willing to do whatever they can to help him, I think he'll wind up doing fine. Dale's teachers all know that he will need some space to adjust to school life, but they won't need to give him any special consideration. He'll be expected to follow the rules and do his work like everybody else, and there will be repercussions if he doesn't. There will be falls; there will be scrapes; there will be tears. I'm hoping there will not be any F's! We will take things one day at a time and trust God to know and do what's best........always.
We have a big God. He's big enough to handle our tears and our fears, our disappointments and our disappointing behavior, our ups and our downs, our failures and our successes, our questions and our doubts. He's big enough to part the sea, fight the battles, heal the sick, and raise the dead. Yet He's gentle enough to hold us when we cry and comfort us when we hurt. He's just enough to discipline us when we err, yet merciful enough to pardon us when we ask. God is above all and in all and through all and around all. He is God.
Romans 8: 18 "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."