As a preschool teacher, it isn’t difficult to see that some children handle change better than others. You quickly learn that in order to avoid meltdowns, certain steps should be taken. For example, it is best to give these children a warning that change is coming. “Okay, friends, in five minutes we are going to start putting our toys away so we can line up.” It is also wise to give these children a rundown of the schedule so they know what to expect. Change can seem less bothersome or scary when they know what the outcome of the change will be. “After we line up, we will go upstairs for Judiacs…won’t that be fun?!” (…yeah…I taught at a Jewish preschool…) If you’re lucky, these steps reduce the freakout sessions to tears and fists to the ground instead of tears, fists to the ground, hair pulling, and biting. If you’re lucky.
As I sit here, hours away from the New Year, I feel a mixture of excitement and dread as I think of what 2010 might hold. I have been in Russia for about four months now and the reality that soon I will be starting my last semester is beginning to set in. I can see the end now. Home isn’t a distant dream. But things have changed. I have changed. Home has changed. New friendships have sprouted that I have no control over or part in. I feel (unrightfully) hurt and confused by such things. It was my choice to come here. What did I expect… everyone to put their lives on hold so I could come home to what I remembered and wanted? I’m acting like a child. I don’t want to adjust to the way things have become. I don’t want to figure out where I fit now. I don’t know how to embrace the change that has occurred. Bottom line- I’m failing to trust God with it all.
When we told our preschoolers it was time to cleanup so we could move on to something different, it wasn’t to hurt them. It wasn’t to make them angry or sad or to ruin all their fun. We did it because it was necessary. If they played with blocks all day they wouldn’t get to experience the joy of the slide or the monkey bars or be able to feel the sunshine on their faces. If they played outside all day they wouldn’t learn necessary lessons like how to share or paint or count. But if they spent all their time working, they wouldn’t have time to nourish or rest their bodies which is so important for their health and growth. So while keeping things as they are might seem like the safer or easier option for the child, as the teacher I know change is necessary for their growth, development, and well being.
You’d think after being in the position of the teacher and understanding the necessity change I’d be able to accept it a little easier. Tonight we are celebrating New Years with American and Russian friends, the boys from Vologda are coming on Saturday, and on Sunday night my grand adventure to see (parts of) the world begins. Life is so good! Yet the past several days I’ve been battling fear and loneliness and feelings of deep inadequacy with it all culminating this morning with a tantrum of tears that could rival one of my three year olds (I decided to leave out the pounding and biting and hair pulling this time though). The truth is, as necessary and positive as change can be, sometimes it also really hurts. Sometimes it is scary and inconvenient and confusing. God, where was my five minute warning? You forgot to tell me what is coming next! This is harder than I expected…this isn’t what I was hoping for and I just don’t know where to go from here.
God, 2010 is a year of unknowns but may it be your year. It is so evident to me that there is much in my life I have failed to surrender to you. I still want it my way and I carry on like a child when your plans differ from my own. I question you when life is difficult and my heart is filled with heaviness. But if change is necessary for my growth or the growth of others, may I accept it with gratitude. You have brought me this far, I know you will not leave me now. 2010…here we go. Lord, show me how to trust. Father, show me how to love. Teacher, show me where you want me and who you want me to be. This isn’t what I expected, but I will choose to trust that this is what you planned. Thank you.