Taking “No” for an Answer

“For what no?” I hear this from my students often when they are trying to say, “Why not?” I suppose that none of us really like to hear “no” and we all want to know why we cannot have something or if there might be an exception. It becomes really annoying to hear it from the students, but adults probably do not realize how much they do it as well. Accepting “no” graciously really is a sign of maturity.

This week, I was expecting a final meeting with my coordinators at work which would allow me to have a self-contained classroom next year. Having my own classroom, instead of only teaching Language Arts for both classes, has been something I have been praying for since January. I made it a personal goal and put in a many hours of work to research different methods and strategies to make my teaching better. This year has been really humbling because I have had to find out so many things for myself and I have been mystified by many things with which trained teachers already had experience. I have often felt unqualified and inadequate, but worked hard so that I would not feel that way anymore. At my meeting, my coordinators told me they are really nervous to allow me a self-contained classroom because of my lack of training. They were also worried that I would not have time to do all of the work I would need to in order to successfully run the self-contained classroom. In short, I received a “no”.

It was hard. However, I was relieved about how I took it. I thought back on the last time I was told “no” about something major I had really wanted. I took it personally, I questioned, I felt completely worthless and fell into depression for a time. This time feels different. Yes, I am disappointed, but I could handle being told that I was not ready for the next step yet. I am okay with waiting and doing some more work. I am okay with the fact that I am not perfect. I feel like I understand 2 Corinthians 12:6-10 better than I did a few years ago. In this passage, Paul talks about a weakness he battled. He asked for it to be removed three times, but God continued to say “no”. It seems that it was through this Paul learned to boast in his weakness because he came to see Christ’s power in it. Before, I could not really wrap my mind around boasting in weaknesses. Yes, I knew it was something we were supposed to do, but my weaknesses always made me feel miserable, they never gave me joy or pride for the Lord’s sake. I think I just caught the very beginning of what it must mean to delight in a weakness because God has the opportunity to work in you and show His great strength.  I am looking forward to next year and being a little better as a Reading/Writing teacher. I am glad to know that He is pleased with me and He will be glorified even when I am weak.

Photo is my own of the glorieta (round-about) in our neighborhood.

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Annual Thunderstorm for Reflection

Around this time of year, I always seem to be blessed with a great, beautiful thunderstorm. The first one with significance was my freshman year of college. We were almost done with classes and I remember going into the room of my next door neighbor, who I was thrilled to have as my roommate the next year. We made some tea, opened the window blinds, turned off all the lights, and sat and talked about how our years were wrapping up and what we were excited for in the next year while the rain poured and the lightening dazzled. A year later, I was grieving having to leave my dear roommates, but one thundering night, visited with the sweet girl who would take their place the following year. It was a pleasant time, but also a little sad because I felt like I was losing something, remembering all my expectations from the previous year. Senior year, we were walking back from one of our last times of prayer as a group and the rains poured. We ran back to our dorm and then our brothers convinced us to come back out since we were soaked anyway. We ran around and laughed and played and later I thought about all of the joy I had experienced during the three years and how deeply I was going to miss those lovely, like-minded friends.

This year, I got my thunderstorm at the start of rainy season here in Guadalajara. This time I was alone, processing after a rough week with many pressures and disappointments. I have been separated from many things I love for an extended time. I miss making music with other people. I miss campfires, tubing on the James, and hiking the beautiful hills. I miss having intellectual/theological discussions with people just for the fun of exploring an idea. (I kind of talked my roommate’s ear off when we got home from work because we were both making dinner and I had been thinking about stuff and wanted to talk. I hope she was okay with that.) For this thunderstorm, I turned off the lights in my room and pulled some pillows to the floor and just watched out the windows. I sang a little, prayed a little, waited a little. I asked God for something that I have missed for awhile now. As I thought about how He is the giver of all good things, I realized that maybe I had had an unjust thought that He had been withholding it from me as a punishment. God disciplines those He loves, but He took our punishment on Himself long ago.  Perhaps, I have been too uncertain to ask for it again or too afraid that I will not be able to handle it. Either way, I asked. It will be exciting to look forward to next year’s thunderstorm for reflection and see how He has answered.

photo credit: PN Garraf 164 – Tormenta seca – Dry storm via photopin (license)