Back to school

Yesterday was the first day of school for all the kiddos back in our hometown, and my Facebook newsfeed overflowed with sweet (mostly smiling) faces, full backpacks, and mommas who simultaneously expressed sadness that their babies were growing up too quickly and utter joy that the summer crazy was finally coming to an end.

T and I aren’t parents yet, so we can’t quite relate to the frenzy and emotions associated with sending kids back to the classroom.  But every time the first day of school rolls around, I’m reminded of my experiences as a student embarking on a brand new year.

With the exception of kindergarten (when my first-day sobs likely tortured my mother for days), I always loved what it meant to start another year of school; the freshly-sharpened pencils and crisp new pocket folders, the promise of new friendships and experiences and discoveries. Each new grade was uncharted water in its own way, complete with a familiar foreignness and the chance to start fresh.

 

Back to school_2

First day of school, circa 1998

 

Looking back on my school days, moments and years stand out as life-defining. It was in second grade that I first discovered my love for writing and storytelling. It was fourth grade where I found my voice via the annual 4-H speech competition, seventh grade when I stepped out of my comfort zone with the decision to join middle school chorus, and 10th grade when I officially became T’s girlfriend. In my mind, these moments are attached to the classrooms in which they took place and the teachers and classmates who were there to see them happen.

For me, that’s the beauty of school; each new year helps define and mark our young lives and gives us the opportunity to redefine who we are, what we’ll do and how others will know us.

Over time, we lose sight of the power of starting anew, and the freedom that comes with allowing ourselves to learn and absorb and be transformed into something different. But over the last couple of months, God has been reminding me of the beauty in the back to school seasons of our lives–the times when we’re thrown into a brand new chapter and expected to navigate unknown territory. Those seasons are certain to bring challenges and loneliness and awkwardness, but they also bring us closer to the One who is the ultimate teacher and giver of wisdom. And thanks to His grace, we can choose to start fresh whenever we want, and not be defined by the mistakes from our past (like that year in middle school when we thought neon braces paired with bright blonde highlights was a good idea…).

So, here’s to a new school year, filled with excitement and surprises and growth. To the teachers who are back to the classrooms this week, know that we’re rooting for you. Your jobs are big and important and harder than most of us could ever imagine, and it always amazes me that, in the daily struggle of wrangling and disciplining, you still find a way to motivate and inspire.

To the mommas who are back to serving as alarm clocks and lunch makers, I admire you. And if, by chance, your student is not of the morning person variety and begs for “just five more minutes” when you try to pull her out of bed, you have my prayers. I, too, was a fan of those four little words and I can promise that someday, said student will feel foolish and ridiculous for forcing you to endure such torment and believing that five minutes actually made a difference. (Sorry, mom!)

Until next time,

M

 

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