Oh, No! What am I going to do now? Here it is, the first day of school, and I don’t have the nametags on the jumbled desks. I notice that the kids are crowded into my classroom, waiting expectantly for some semblance of a lesson or order, but then I realize I forgot to make lesson plans! Their books aren’t labeled. The bulletin boards aren’t gaily decorated. I don’t even have the lunch-count forms ready. A million details left undone swirl through my head. I’m so confused! What’s going on? Then, I spy the principal sitting near the back of the classroom with his arms crossed on his chest, waiting for me to begin the school year, disappointment written clearly on his face. When I look down to see that I’m still in my nightgown, I realize this MUST be a dream!
Yup! It’s my annual back-to-school nightmares—even after I’ve been retired for six years!!! Oh, sheesh! Will this never stop? Every single year, I knew it was drawing close to the time for kids to return to school when I’d have my yearly freak-out dreams! Argh! What in the world causes them?
Rest assured that–in reality–I was one of those teachers who was well-organized—often weeks (months?) beforehand—and excited for the return of students to the building. I often had parents bring their children to my classroom during the summer when they saw my car outside the building. On average, a third of my class were siblings from prior years, so I knew many of these early-returning families. They felt comfortable enough with my teaching and classroom environment that they entrusted their younger ones to attend my class, too. So, I don’t think the reason for these annual nightmares had a factual basis.
Even as a young person, I LOVED school! It was a calming place for me, with its routines, mental stimulation, and loving teachers. I performed well in school, probably mostly because I loved it so much. Yes, my summers were packed full of beach time and swimming, even when I crammed it in after work as I got older. As delightful as summers were, though, I still longed for the start of school. And, I felt the same way as a teacher—I LOVED school! For my first 7 years of teaching, I had the freedom as a gifted services teacher to greet incoming families at the school’s front door on that first morning. I loved their excitement, anticipation, and even anxiety—parents and kids. I made sure they felt safe and loved. So, why the awful dreams?
It’s tough to admit, but I think it comes back to a “control” thing. I had all these fresh faces looking to me for guidance; I couldn’t let them down! For students and teachers, each year is a new mix of personalities and abilities. What will our teacher be like, will she like me, will I learn a lot from her? Will my students enjoy coming to school, be enriched by the lessons I’ve prepared, can I meet all their needs? It’s a heavy responsibility, and my subconscious still wrestles with it, apparently.
The only way I can truly stop this annual ritual is to trust that God uses His perfect will and power to guide me. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
That verse causes my shoulders to relax and let go. But, why do I need constant reminders to turn it over to God? I obviously haven’t found the “trick” to get God’s calming effect deep down into my subconscious. Perhaps, that’s why we keep on praying and turning to the Word for guidance. At least, I know that I need the continual reminders.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
Jesus directly advised us about anxiety, too. He said, 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? … 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? … 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:25-34
I underlined the two lines which screamed at me. Now, perhaps if I pray over them fervently, I’ll be able to set my subconscious to rest and stop fretting about school. And I can stop fretting about showing up to teach in my nightgown…argh! Prayer and time will tell…hopefully, I’ll have a good report for you next year at this time.
Your prayerful friend in Christ,